(As for thei point) I want to elaborate on issue relating to Cambodian dishes. We have got tobe the one who start to disseminate our dishes so as to raise awareness among tourists. I have experimented it myself. I always ordered some Cambodian dishes in the menu when I throw a party for my guests to try and see if they like Cambodian dishes or not. When we go to foreign country, it is very rare that you are being served with anything that is not local dish. I would like to urge all ministries to host their guests with Cambodian dishes and music.
It seems that (some Cambodians) have been the ones who like to present (foreign) things to foreign guests. I have said on various occasions that presenting bands of foreign musical instruments like accordion, etc. is like trying to present foreign guests with their own cultures. We also have our tools and we should play our tools for them. They are in Cambodian to learn about Cambodia. Let them see it. We should learn it from other countries as well, Japan included. Japan would not play western music and/or serve you with food from other cultures but their own. We should learn it from them.
I always check the menu that is brought to me for my official dinner with foreign guests. Take for instance, my latest dinner offered in honor of the crown prince Naruhito of Japan, I have Samlor Korko (a typical Cambodian fish and vegetable soup) as the main course. The crown prince mistook it for curry but I told him it was not. I clarified that curry may be identical for Vietnam, Thailand or Laos but Samlor Korko is exclusively Cambodian. I am so glad that the crown prince had it all expressing his willingness to get to know what it was typical Cambodian dish. Samdech Kong Sam Ol, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Royal Palace also served the crown prince with more Cambodian dishes while he was in Siem Reap province. That he enjoyed them too means our dishes are not that bad.
Now let’s start from the state institutions to raise the awareness of Cambodian dishes among foreign guests. As for tourists, it is up to them to choose what they want but it is our obligation to present them with what we have. I am sure we can do that.
I am taking this opportune moment to express my sincere appreciation to the Ministry of Culture and Fines Arts for its efforts to organize Cambodian art program for the Japanese crown prince. To the liking of guests, we presented various kinds of Cambodian drum. While watching the presentation, the Japanese crown prince asked me which drum is used for what occassion. We also used local Islam drums in the presentation. In our folk dance to welcome guests, a large number of drums have also been made part of the composition. I told him of a small drum that Cambodians used in wedding party and Ayai (extempore singing and exchanging of lyric, usually between man and woman).
Talking about this, we also have many more abstract art objects and performances to be considered as world heritages. Cambodia has got Yi Ke (a kind of local theatrical performance) and Japei (soloist), Ayai, etc. which are typical Cambodian. As I said earlier, I have instructed more than half the menu the Cambodian dishes and the Cambodian music band to play in honor of the guests too. Do you not notice that some tourists also bought as souvenirs some of the Cambodian drums too.
As far as this point is concerned, HE Thaong Khon, Minister of Tourism also brought up just now about the intergovernamental instruction reached between the Ministry of Public Works and Transports and the Ministry of Tourism, let me also remind you about what I said on June 7 at Banteay Meanjei province during the groundbreaking ceremony to build the NR 56 on issue of driving safe of tourist busses. It is noted that lately there have been various accidents concerning the tourist buses in Koh Kong province, where one Russian tourist was killed.
It is my intention that effort must be made to pay attention to preventing traffic accidents not only for tourists but also big buses concerned. All travel and transportation companies must be responsible in choosing their drivers and other matters concerned so as to made driving safe. We have assured safety from terrorist actions but we also have to made it work as far as traffic safety is concerned.
As we have lately frequent accidents of busses involving those carrying tourists as well, it is urgent that we have to pay greater attention to this matter. On TV, I saw today, there was a serious bus accident somewhere in Thailand and one Indian was killed while a few others were wounded. We must ensure safe driving not only for foreigners but also local tourists.
While we are triying to attract tourists from abroad, we should not overlook the importance of local ones. Cambodians now have more money so they wanted to go visit various places. Take for instance, we can take note on the interrelatedness that the Bokor Resort has on provinces of Kep and Kompot. As of the present, there is only a 400-room hotel up the Bokor Mountain Resort. Since there are more and more people goining to visit the place, this number of room is not sufficient.
As far as I know some 1000 rooms are under construction and 4000 more are in the pipeline. However, while waiting for the 1000 rooms to be ready, many visitors have come to the place only to enjoy the setup and come down to take a rest and enjoy the good food in hotels in Kopmpot or Kep. I call this the interrelatedness effect or a repercussion. This has further developed local tourism. In addition to that, because of better infrastructures in place, local tourists can also visit provinces of Ratanakiri, Mondulkiri and Stoeng Treng, etc.
According to some studies, local tourists spend even more that those from abroad. It has been the case so far that while tourists from outside have been affected by crisis, the local tourists are keeping the flow in toursim and related sectors. Along with this our people also are gaining knowledge and understanding of their own country from visiting one region to another, and while appreciating the natural wealth, they will take part in conserving it. These are very critical points to promote and ensure the development of tourism in Cambodia.
I have followed with due consideration and thought on issue that people raised in various discussions and recommendations by politicans also included, about finding markets for local products. I doubt it what they know the Royal Government is doing. By attracting more tourists to visit the country is one way of find markets in that matter. It allows chance for people to sell and increase their production but also to perovide them with works. How could they preach about market seeking in words but empty actions while the Royal Government has been doing it all along? Look, we have numerous hotels now. Though we may need more of them to be built, the existing number of hotels have been targets for local supply.
Have they noticed, how many hotels and restaurants that are cosuming local products? Of course things like butter must be imported but various products are being supplied locally. Some of the local products have now become the likes for both local and foreigners. What we need to do now is to improve quality of our products and also increase our ability to sufficiently supply to the need in tourist sector in the country. In deed tourism has a strong interaction with people’s income through availability of works and markets.
I do not understand when some dignitaries continue to talk about what they termed as finding markets. Have they thought that it is a simple thing to do to export Cambodian rice to Japan? It is not that simple. No country could break into Japanese rice market because the Japanese rice tastes great. On the other hand, they also have the need to protect local markets for their products as well. One way of doing that is simply to place phyto-sanitary measures on them. In Los Cabos, at the G20 Summit, as rotating chair of ASEAN, I devoted my intervention speech on issue of protectionism and trade facilitation.
In the world, subsidy is a major issue. You may ask if export rice to a foreign country is a simple thing. We may have lesser problems to export rice to countries in ASEAN, such as Malaysia, Philippines, etc. than to countries in Europe or Japan. However, there is one critical thing here that we have to keep in mind. Those foreigners while visiting Cambodia never bring with them their rice. Definitely they will have Cambodian rice. And that is what I term “exporting to local market visitors” and this is a major component of what finding markets for local products. Please do not only think of exports that cross the border.
Let’s talk about chicken farmers. As of the moment, there has been almost sufficient supply of eggs in the whole country, thanks to progress made in chicken farming. However, we are in dire need for beef because the beef quality we have is not up to the standard required by five stars hotels. That is why we have the necessity to promote cropping and raising animals to answer to the requirement for high quality cereals and meat as well so as to lessen amount of import and increase local ability to export locally. It is correct that we have concluded that there has to be a greenbelt around every tourist destination – local or foreign alike.
With that achieved, people will benefit greatly from services required to provide for tourists everywhere. Products do not have to find their ways to Phnom Penh, Siem Reap or Sihanouk provinces. Let’s grow in the greenbelt next to where the tourists are. Take for instance, I suggested for the Prong soup (something like the Samlor Kokor) when I visited Mondulkiri. The provincial authority was kind enough to cook it for us. I did not have chance to taste it for thirty years. So we must raise poultry and animals, and grow vegetables for local hotels and restaurants.
As is said very often that tourist sector interacts with so many fields. By tourist definition they said that one tourist is creating jobs for 2.5 persons. Take easy example, upon arrival, a tourist visa would earn the state 20 USD. There was a request by HE Thaong Khon that we should waive visas for the (ASEAN) + three nations. According to reciprocal principle, if it exists, we have to implement it. However, because there have been so many requests, I may have to elaborate on that.
I would urge our officials to look into the whole forest rather than just singling out each tree. If we were to waive visa for one of the (ASEAN) + three nations, what do we have to do for the other two? Shall we waive for all of them? When we go to their country, they would charge us more. If we were to waive visas for the (ASEAN) + three nations, what shall we do for countries in Europe? We would end up in losing state income from visa. So let’s look into the whole national income not just tourist sector. I have to think about that because it is concerning the gain and loss of national income.
We will allow that based on principle of reciprocation and not otherwise. Among all (ASEAN) + three nations, if they agree to do it likewise, we would also agree to do it. You may make a simple calculation that one million or three million even is multiplied by 20 USD.
I would just suggest that our people who are trading in tourist industry refrain from cheating in price. There has been this case in the past that they come only once and never come back again. We must make them want to come back again and to bring more, like family members, with them. To attract one tourist to come is hard but to make this tourist come back again, and to bring along more of his/her friends/family members is even harder. So I urge that, as part of the campaign to get the tourists come back with more friends and family members, our traders in this business should exercise honesty in their businesses.
Though I am not a trader or trade specialist, I should share my thought that we must do whatever we can to keep the tourists come back and to bring more with them. We should not scare them away because of cheating in business.
Please allow me to take this chance to speak a little about the land measuring operation which has commenced last week. We already have some 700 youths to help measuring land for people in eight provinces. More will leave tomorrow to Kompong Chhnang, Kompong Thom, Preah Vihear and Stoeng Treng provinces. The mission also consists of drivers and some 100 military medical staff. We will have to deploy more youth volunteers to the provinces of Siem Reap, Uddar Meanjei, Pursath and Koh Kong. We therefore have 35 new groups of 400 members in total ready then.
I am so proud that our youth volunteers have taken up this historic mission. I thank the provincial authorities for their welcoming gestures to the youth volunteers. The Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction led by Senior Minister HE Im Chhun Lim have done a great deal of works with the sub-national authority so as to sort out difficulties regarding the works to be fulfilled. I also extend my thanks to all places where the youth volunteers have been welcomed. I urge strongly that efforts must be made to prevent illness and treat our youths who have had health problems.
I would like to take this opportunity to once again express my sincere thanks to the parents and/or supervisors of the youth volunteers who have agreed and supported their decisions to help the country fulfill such a historic mission. I thank the local televisions like CTN, CNC as well as those of Bayon for covering and broadcasting activities concerning this operation as one of their prioritized news. It is simply not the same as far as living condition is concerned from one place to another. My wife has been calling to almost all of the groups and this morning, while we learnt that in Mondulkiri province our youth volunteers could not get out to work because of heavy rain. We also found out that those working in the same mission in Kompot province had to walk from mountain to mountain.
It has been proven that two pairs of clothes for each of them are not enough. We have to provide everyone with one more. While sending these youths out for the mission, someone said s/he is concerned that the mission and the selection of youth for the mission could result in political discrimination. I respond to such a remark by telling our youth volunteers at Koh Pij Exhibition Centre that they must refrain from asking people whom they serve as to which party they support or vote for. S/he accepted that my instruction is good but s/he was still concerned about the fact that these youth volunteers are in military uniforms. What a/he just needs is to make it all a fuss.
Does not s/he know that to cope with condition out there our youth volunteers have had to be in durable uniform? They have to walk in thorny bushes and forests. They are not walking on paved road. Despite that much we have thought out, we still forget to provide them with mats and more cooking pots are needed too.
From various calls my wife made, especially the female youth volunteers from Kompot, I am surethat they would learn a great deal from this mission. According to my experience, to provide logistic support for the youth volunteers with this mission is harder than doing for military. The key difference is the military is concentrated in one place and this mission carries out widespread actions.
I told HE Im Chhun Lim last night that even if we will have to deploy 5000 youth volunteers, now we have 1,100, we are going to do it as long as we can provide our people with land ownership titles. We have many more youth volunteers available. However, for the province of Uddar Meanjei, I would urge the provincial authority to discuss with General Kun Kim, Deputy Chief of General Staff, as he already got some 300 youths from Kandal province to help them with similar mission. I also called governors of Siem Reap and Preah Vihear to find out about their situations too.
There has a newspaper that was running a story accusing heads of so and so military divisions concerning land issue. The military has demanded they run a correction. I would urge the newspaper to do so or they would face with penalty as defined in the press law. For now we have 126 teams from the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction in the field so we need to come up with equal number of groups of youth volunteers. As of now we have 1,500 volunteers and about 1,600 including drivers.
It is understood that some of the volunteers will have to come back to school to finish their school’s works and assignments and we in this case have to get our replacement team ready too. However, according to our preliminary assessment, for the initial campaign, the mission could finish the task of measuring and providing primary land titles. Those who do not have school engagements would go on. We understand that it is hard to implement this mission in the rainy season but we also understand even better that there is no choice better than getting to work now.
Next Friday there will be a meeting to listen to the reports from all missions. It should be noted also that in provinces of Siem Reap, Preah Vihear, Kompong Chhnang, etc., while waiting for the arrival of youth volunteers, they already started measuring lands too. I urge that heads of the youth groups will be invited to the meeting on VDO Conference so that we can talk to one another about the job. For those provinces where the youth volunteers have not been able to come, the provincial working groups, led by provincial governors and provincial offices of land survey will have to commence their measuring job as well. We also need to speed up the process of giving out primary land titles to our people.
I should note that our youth volunteers would experience different tastes in life this time and what you have done is a great contribution to land titling issue, though it is not land reform. Some countries in the past sent youths to the countryside to introduce land reform policy. The mission that our youth volunteers are engaging in this time is historic one and solving land titling issue for the people.
You will have much pride in your life as you have made contribution in providing proper and safe land ownerships for the people. The land titles that we are providing our people this time will not be for one or two but tens of years to come. As you know that we will of course engage in land titling in other areas as well but first we have to target three types of land – forest land concession, economic land concession and state land that is illegally occupied.
You may imagine that these places will become tourist destinations as we are going to set up, after cutting out of forest land concession, one forest community for villages. They will serve the purpose of ecotourism. After coming from Mexico, HE Mok Mareth, Minister of Environment, proposed the establishment of Green Council. I agreed and we really have to make it green and not just in words./.