Japanese Hi-Tech Investments

I am thrilled that today we have two events to celebrate together. First, we put into official operation the Special Economic Zone of Koh Kong (SEZ-KK) which in fact has gone into operation since 2006. Second, we are putting into official operation the Yazaki Corp. plant, which is right in front of us and already under operation. I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt appreciation and consideration for all the efforts made by the Koh Kong provincial and sub-national authorities, which has been presented by HE Bun Loeut, Governor of  Koh Kong in his progress report.

In fact, starting in 2006, the SEZ-KK has the first in the country. However, we have been waiting patiently for the arrival of factories and investments into the SEZ-KK. As of 2012, the SEZ-KK has accommodated three factories already – the Hyundai Assembly Line, which is not far from here, the garment factory for exports and the Yazaki Corp. plant, which, as the company has told us, is producing the nerve of the car. I urge our workers to be vigilant in the jobs they are doing here because the production will be supplying not only for the Cambodian car market but also throughout the world.

What is happening here today indicates that the hi-tech investment has already come into the country and I wish to bring up some backgrounds with regard to the Japanese investment in the Kingdom of Cambodia. Last year, I presided over the inauguration and official operation of the Minebea Cambodia, which is also the hi-tech industry. Last week, we launched the construction of the 200-million USD mall over some ten hectares of land, which for the time being, I would call it a gigantic mall. There may be a bigger one only in the next twenty or thirty years perhaps. As far as this AEON investment is concerned, I must say it is the country’s biggest mall at present.

Only seven days later, we are here to put into official use the plant that puts together the Japanese Yazaki Corp.’s electric wires used in cars throughout the world. These are all hi-tech investment coming from Japan. I would also share with you that Mr. Yazaki, during our previous meeting, told me of his research project in relation to trying out new technology such as solar panel and agricultural machineries, the rice mill also included. He is in search of a way to modify the rice mill using Japanese technology since rice in Japan tends to have roundish shape while rice in Cambodia has a shape of an oval. I am sure if he can come up with the machine there is a good market here.

In Cambodia now, there is a clear and urgent need for rice mill of all sizes – small, medium and large. However, the small size machine is in greater demand. The Cambodian people do not have to de-husk paddy rice by manual pounding anymore. They need to mill them. There are 16,000 villages or 1600 communes. There need to be more than one rice mill in each commune. If there is that sort of rice mill produced here, we could have sold some to the local market in addition to exporting to other countries.

Safety Standard and Labor Competition

It is my pleasure to see that the Yazaki Corp. has in fact been operating already with some 600 workers. I have learned from the workers that they earn a total salary of 110 USD per month. Mr. Yazaki has also emphasized on the safety standard as the factory gives high attention to work safety inside the factory and pollution matter. The company has installed solar panel to reduce the amount of fossil energy.

I will encourage further study on use of solar panel because Cambodia has intention to apply green development approach. I think that there is a huge demand here for solar energy as an alternative source to the fossil energy. The company, if the product will be in their list some time later, can also look for external markets as well. I am of the opinion that the company should go on with this development.

I would like to take this moment to appeal to workers in the factory to cooperate with the company and plant so that you can get along and go together in a win-win situation. According to the calculation here, by 2015 the plant will need to increase from 600 to 2,000 and even 3,000 workers. I am sure there would not have enough labor here in Koh Kong. I just suggested to Oknha Lyon Phat to pay attention to issues relating to the workers’ residence, which has become a thriving issue not only in sparsely populated area but also in the whole country, Phnom Penh included.

Every company – investing in agriculture, industry and service – must guarantee workers will have their salary and residence, and working conditions will be the factory and company’s concerns. We anticipate that there will not be sufficient labor for factories in the SEZ-KK. We are looking forward to welcoming the Japanese Mikaza company to SEZ-KK too. Mikaza Sports (Cambodia) Co. Ltd. is specialized in producing ball of all kinds. We will soon see that volleyballs and footballs that they use and play in the world are going to come from Koh Kong province of Cambodia.

Koh Kong and Peace Mission

I am so glad that the governor of Thailand’s Trat province, commanders and deputy commanders of the Royal Thai Army are able to join us in welcoming the progress made in the province of Koh Kong. I am so fortunate that I have the chance to serve people in Koh Kong in my political career. Brother Say Phu Thang, former deputy head of state and an influential member of the Cambodian People’s Party and head of the central organization committee, chose me at the time when I was 32 years old for the post of Prime Minister. It was a confidential election. Nobody voted in objection. You may check the record. I had their whole support. With that in mind, I am determined to serve the country without disappointing Samdech Chea Sim, Samdech Heng Samrin, and especially Brother Say Phu Thang.

With HE Kuroki Masafumi, the Japanese Ambassador, on the plane here, we talked about the signing of the establishment of the Supreme National Council (SNC), which I am sure HE Ieng Moly, then a member of the Son San’s faction, was also present. I said at the time that I did not know how many factions there were (to be including in the SNC) but only two factions as far as the matter was concerned – the Phnom Penh government and the tripartite coalition government. The twelve-member formula for the SNC composition must be 6 (from the Phnom Penh government) and another which was a composition of 2+2+2. (The Khmer Rouge representative) Khieu Samphan boycotted, while the late Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk signed the establishment, with the presence of the late Samdech Son San on one side and Thai General Chaovalit Yungchaiyuth, then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, on the other.

He (General Chaovalit Yungchaiyuth) was there to help with the formation of the SNC since the initial SNC framework agreement had reached first in Bangkok between the late Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk and Hun Sen at the facilitation of Prime Minister Chatichai Chunhavan and then Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense, General Chaovalit Yungchaiyuth. Then there was a confidential trip via Koh Kong through Pak Khlang to arrive in Khlang Yai at around 4 am the next day. We then continued the trip – on water and land to Pattaya. That was a secret meeting between Gen. Chaovalit Yungchaiyuth and me. Then there was this meeting with HE Yukio Imagawa (later was the Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia) and I in order to put together the meeting in Tokyo.

In order to get to the Paris Peace Agreement, there was a start from Sihanouk-Hun Sen meeting and then all Cambodian factions (JIM I & JIM II – Jakarta Informal Meeting), which came to a failure in Paris and then IMC (International Meeting on Cambodia). To be correct it should not even be a JIM but BIM, because the meeting was not in Jakarta but in Bogor, Indonesia. I was one of many people who helped put together the peace negotiation process and eventually ended the war completely through the conduct of the win-win policy. I have talked and showed to HE Kuroki Masafumi about the integration of Oral Mountain in early 1996 followed by the integration of areas on the northern side of the National Road 5 and 6 before we moved for final integration of Anlong Veng, the last stronghold of the Khmer Rouge, in early 1998. We were able to let the people in the area to join the national elections in the same year.

Koh Kong’s Unique Geographical Condition

As far as the province of Koh Kong is concerned, I am so pleased with the love and regard that the people have reserved for me in response to many policies that I have to carry out in my responsibility as the Prime Minister from the time of the State of Cambodia to the present. There was a proposition that we should close our border exit here in Koh Kong with Thailand. Maybe Brother Say Phu Thang and HE Tia Banh knew about it that I had to come to review the situation of Koh Kong in 1985. Upon my return, I hold on to my argument that it was impossible to close all border contacts. Travel from Sre Ambel to Koh Kong by boat would take twelve hours in good weather condition but more in bad weather.

Some thought that it was important to stop business with Thailand. Why they had that in mind while the government was under embargo? My argument, when I returned from the reviewing trip to Koh Kong, was it would be impossible to close the business contact with Thailand. Even taking serious measure to put one police in between twenty meters from each other would not work. I said it was possible for the first week but they would let go in the week after. I remember that I stayed at the house of Oknha Kong Triv in Pak Khlang. They had to send a speedboat to Thailand’s Khlang Yai to buy me a bowl of Chinese noodle. There was nothing like that to eat then in  Pak Khlang.

Keys to Attract Workers and Prevent Illegal Migration

People of Koh Kong had to travel anywhere by boat until we had this national road 48 built with the assistance of the Royal Thai Government. In the past, traveling here (from Kompong Som or Phnom Penh) we had to take the Royal speedboat or on land we had to cross four rivers with ferries. We now replaced the ferries with four big bridges. I came presiding over the inauguration of the bridges and road in 2008, on the day that was also coinciding with the birthday of HM the King, May 14, 2008. We then had the presence of HE Sumchai Vongsawat, Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama. HE Somchai later became Prime Minister of Thailand.

After the bridges and road completed, we noticed that there have been an increasing number of tourists. In addition to these, we have three factories in place. We are waiting for the fourth one to come. I would place my appeal to owners of the factories that are in operation or under construction to pay attention to the workers’ wellbeing. It is important to provide workers with lodgings because without one, though the factories may give a big salary, it would be also difficult to mobilize them to work.

If Mr. Yazaki is taking this into his plan, I am sure he would be able to attract more workers, whereas it would lessen illegal migration workers from Cambodia too. In fact, Thailand has been a country suffered the impacts of illegal migration workers from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar too. In this note, I am calling all Cambodian workers to return to the country and to find work with the information service on Cambodian job market.

Keep 20,000 Ha Forest for Environmental Concern, Energy for Koh Kong

A moment ago the Koh Kong’s governor Bun Loeut made a report in relation to issue of the youth-student volunteers in the land measuring and titling mission. Though it is not possible to make a public display of cadastre information index, the mission has already collected information and measured over 10,000 land parcels and measured another 11,000 land parcels too over an area of 17,000 hectares. We are happy that the people will have authentic land titles and we have to look into issue of protection of the environment.

As I have brought it up, according to the study, we have 30 billion USD worth of titanium but exploiting it would have to clear about 20,000 hectares of forestland, where the elephants are crossing too. We decided to leave it underground as unearthing for them would destroy the forest, then land erosion and the seawater will be no longer clear blue but as red as rusty color. Leaving the titanium underground is not going to make it spoil. We can take them when we are reborn three more times. It will not be too late. HE Kuroki Masafumi might be impressed to see vast forest and I told him of a study that there are some 30 billion USD worth of titanium beneath it.

In my next birth I will probably be an activist safeguarding the environment against the unearthing for titanium because as Prime Minister in this life I am against it so after two hundred years perhaps, I will reborn to be activist against the removal of titanium from beneath the forest. Perhaps I will be twin with HE Mok Mareth (Minister of Environment) too.

As far as electricity is concerned, I am sure you have sufficient energy wired from Thailand. Soon we will have our own electricity generated from A Tai and Ta Tai hydropower electric stations. You also will benefit from the project to generate electricity by using coal. I am so happy to see all these achievements arise in the land of Koh Kong province. I hope that the Yazaki Corp. factory which put together the car’s electric wires, or they say it the car’s nerve, will go on smoothly in their operation and I strongly hope that the Mikaza Sports (Cambodia) Co. Ltd., will also come soon.

First Come First Served Investment Policy

Let me affirm that the Cambodian policy to attract investors is first come first served. Those who come late would find the ship crowded and when you cannot find something to invest in, please do not take former investors as corrupted. You may ask how much Mr Yazaki gave me in order to open this factory and the AEON Mall project the other day. Our policy is first come first served and we do not wait for the big company. We welcome anyone because we need to create more jobs and promote exports from our country too.

Koh Kong province now is no longer an isolated place as there are more tourist sites, for instance Ji Phat, which attracts the attention of many foreign tourists. We have to keep water at Ji Phat clear and clean. I hope whoever becomes Prime Minister after me would not be indulged in taking titanium from underground. I urge that even if it is more than 30 billion USD worth, we should not cause destruction to our environment and sea nature. I do not know who will be and when we have the new Prime Minister since I have not decided to leave yet. I have to compete again in 2013 and if I get the people’s support I will continue to be Prime Minister. I am not too old yet.

Cooperation Cambodia-Thailand Increases Investors’ Confidence

It is truly honor and happy that today we see the relationship between Cambodia and Thailand is in good momentum because of the presence of HE governor of Trat and commanders of the Royal Thai army. That is what I want. I want to build a border of peace, friendship and cooperation. I am sure this is what our two people want. We should make further efforts so that people along the border on both sides would be able to live in friendship, make business with one another for prosperity.

Now our connection is not limited to only physical structure such as roads or bridges but also electricity, tourism, trade and culture. I wish to see that will continue forever and the cooperation between the armies and police from the two provinces – Cambodia’s Koh Kong and Thailand’s Trat – will go on for each other’s benefit. I am sure this also will increase confidence of investors as from here to the border is only 1,200 meters.

I think there are two major issues that are increasing the confidence of the Yazaki Corp. as well as many others that invest in factories in the SEZ-KK. First, they trust in the political stability of Cambodia and second the friendship between Cambodia and Thailand. The best thing here is that both sides should not fight each other. If there is any conflict, we must resolve them by discussion.

Change of Prime Minister in Japan, Same Policy for Cambodia

As far as I know Mr Yazaki and his company is providing assistance in building a school building of six classrooms in the Primary School of Nieng Kok, Pak Khlang commune, Mondul Seima district. Now Japan has a new Prime Minister, who will take over either today or tomorrow, after winning the elections the night before. HE Shinzo Abe is the head of association that builds school in Cambodia and used to visit our country too. The Liberal Democratic Party of Japan won 294 seats over 480 seats in the parliament. By joining with the New Komeito Party, the LDPJ has increased the number of seat to 325. I would like to take this opportune moment to express my sincere respect to the victory of HE Shinzo Abe who is the leader of LDPJ and will become the next Japanese Prime Minister.

I hope that we will conduct an official visit to Cambodia again. HE Kuroki asked me what I think of Abe and Noda (former Prime Minister). My thought for them are the same. Choosing anyone is the decision made by the Japanese people. However, even though there are changes of Prime Minister and politics in Japan, the Japanese policy for the Kingdom of Cambodia will not alter. All three political parties that are taking turn holding power in Japan in the past 20 years have political consensus on Cambodia. There was one in 1994 the Socialist Party of Japan hold power in Japan and in 2009, the Japanese Democratic Party led by HE Hatoyama won landslide elections bringing him to power and later Prime Minister Noda, who came to Cambodia for the recent ASEAN plus partners summit. The Japanese political line has not altered and I hope that the change of Prime Minister in Japan will not affect its policy regarding Cambodia.

A Song and New Bill in Commemoration of the King-Father

Last night there was a song that my colleague and I put together in relation to the demise of the King-Father. TV stations could replay the song on October 15 every year when we take a holiday from work to pay respect to the soul of the King-Father. Last night they showed in karaoke on TVK, Hang Meas TV and Bayon TV. In the past we observed 31 October – the King-Father’s birthday anniversary. We now move it to October 15, when the King-Father passed away. We will also have new bill in 1,000 Riel for giving away at the cremation and 50,000 Riel, which will be in circulation after we issue a sub-decree. The 1,000-Riel bill will be for our people to either keep it as a memory or use in any transaction./.