I have a great pleasure to be able to come and join with the Buddhist monks, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, the Ambassador and our people to put into official use the National Road 57B that is running 176 Kilometers long in the Cambodian territory. Yesterday I had a concern if I could make a journey this far or not since I had a fever and I am still having some of it now. It all started on last Sunday but I still went to preside over the celebration of the Cultural Day event. The night of Monday, the fever was terrible. On the following Tuesday, I had a meeting from 8 am through to 12:30 pm. The fever got worse. I still have one more event to take part for the graduation and diploma presenting ceremony of the French language teachers. HE Tram Iv Toek, Minister of Transports and Public Works and HE the Chinese Ambassador, Bu Jianguo, already gave you information about the construction and Chinese financial assistance in that matter.
NR 57B, 57 and 59 – Triangulation of Development
As far as I could remember, on 21 March 2011, HE Pan Guangxie, one of the former Ambassadors of the People’s Republic of China to Cambodia, joined me for the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the NR 57B. I had recalled that the three roads (NR 57B, 57 and 59) would serve as a triangular of development. I think we launched the ceremony at Thmor Kol district, the primary school of Phum Thmey, Bansay Treng commune, Battambang province. Today we are at the district of Bovel, still in Battambang. The reason why I was talking about triangulation of development is the fact that I link up the three national roads together.
(A) National road 57 runs from the province of Battambang to Pailin province. (B) National road 57B has three segments (1) 90 Km from Thmor Kol to Bovel and Sampeo Loun, (2) 69 Km from Bovel to village 30, Phnom Proek, and (3) 16 Km from village 30 to Kam Rieng, O Da – altogether 176 Km. (C) National road 59 runs from Koan Damrey through Mealai to Pailin. Having said that, in the northwestern area of the country, the southern part of the national road 5 of the province of Battambang and the national road 6 of Banteay Meanjei, together with Pailin have had 423 Km of new road infrastructure. These roads are built with the preferential loans from the People’s Republic of China.
Today we are putting the last segment of the road into official use. HE Sar Kheng, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, inaugurated the national road 57 and I inaugurated the national road 59 in June 2013. With this road 57B inaugurated, the three roads will link together for the interest of developing Cambodia’s northwestern area. Though they may be seen to be of significance for local development, it is important to understand that they also are playing important role in connecting the country altogether with other national roads for national development.
NR 55 – A Priority for Loan from China
Please allow me to take this opportunity to stress that the Royal Government will invest the northwestern area in the construction of another road – national road 55, 182 Km, which will connect the city of Pursat to the district of O Da at the border between Cambodia and Thailand. The Ministry of Economy and Finance asked for my decision which of the two roads – NR 55 and NR 58, should be built first. The national road 58 will be running from the national road 6 at Serei Sophoan city to the province of Uddar Meanjei.
I told the Ministry of Economy and Finance to seek preferential loan from China as a priority for the national road 55. As for the national road 58, since we already have the national road 56 under construction under the loan of the Asian Development Bank and Korea, we may leave it for later. We have the need to connect the city of Pursat with the district of O Dar at the border with Thailand. We got no link there. Once it is connected, we would have a corridor along the border from where we could connect with Pailin on one side and Koh Kong on another. It will be the best link for the country’s transportation need.
Busy Schedule for Chinese Ambassador
Not long ago, Ambassador Bu Jianguo mentioned that two weeks ago she participated in the event to connect the power transmission line from Svay Rieng to Phnom Penh. I must remind her that she has many more programs to involve with me. From today through to April, we have three events to participate together – (1) the inauguration of the Atai River Hydropower (2) the link-up of the Cambodian-Chinese Friendship Bridge at Ta Khmao and (3) the link-up of the Cambodian-Chinese Friendship Bridge at Jroy Jangva. As ambassador to Cambodia, there are many achievements to put into official uses, to build new ones, etc.
As far as bridge construction is concerned, we have four bridges under construction as of the moment of speaking – the Cambodian-Chinese Friendship Bridge at Stoeng Treng, two Cambodian-Chinese Friendship bridges across the Bassac River at Ta Khmao and Koh Thom, and the Cambodian-Chinese Friendship Bridge at Jroy Jangva. Aside from those, we also have a number of new roads under construction. Thanks to busy cooperation between the two countries, we have many events to cover together.
HE Ambassador just mentioned in her speech that our two countries (relations) have reached the stage of comprehensive strategic partnership. The Kingdom’s need for capital has come to meeting the ability from the People’s Republic of China to answer to it. With it, we have invested further in needed infrastructures relating to irrigation, roads and electricity. For Battambang province, we have gone through the first and second stages of irrigation system development already. I just passed by the area too. This clearly indicates that we have the need for abundance of capital for the national construction.
The three national roads altogether, I mentioned above, scores to 423 Km. However, the national road 55 of another 182 Km would add up the total road length whereby China helped build over 600 Km in this area. This effort will link Cambodia internally together and the Kingdom with Thailand too. Linking itself locally and with neighboring countries is our priority.
I would take this opportunity to express through HE Ambassador my sincere thanks and appreciation for the government of the People’s Republic of China for always making financial commitment for the development of the Kingdom of Cambodia. During his visit of HE Xi Jinping to Cambodia, we have agreed on various projects at the cost of about 500 million USD, the national road 57B is one of them. Our annual proposed projects for our Chinese friends to consider – either in grant, non-interest and concessional loans, ranges to between 500 and 700 million USD per annum.
We wish to see that developed China will facilitate capital need of developing countries. May HE Ambassador convey my sincere appreciation and thank of the Royal Government of Cambodia to the people and government of (the People’s Republic of) China for their efforts to provide favorable condition for companies and investors from China to invest in the development of Cambodia.
Former Battlefields Become Development Areas
Since 1988, I have a strong aspiration in transforming former battlefields into development area and marketplace. Just now HE Ke Kim Yan showed me the map indicating where former division 6 stationed, where it withdrew to, etc. The war history of Bovel district is far from normal. We, the younger generation, must learn from the search for peace experiences to resolve problems left from the former generations. We need to change battlefields into true development areas. Without the integration in place between 1996 and 1998, how could our people have lived in Bovel? Would they have schools of all levels?
In time of war, one side would seek all means to suppress the other by military means and the other side would do the same in return. In the course of doing so, who would have been dead? No one would but the Cambodians. That is a fact in the Cambodian history. HE Ee Chhien, Sok Pheap, Ieng Phan, Phirom had involved in the war. Now they all sit together. That is what I am proud of in my life. Cambodians from different political tendency stopped fighting. They sit down working together. Cambodians no longer need to use bullets and no more killing field.
It is my strong belief that political and administrative integration would not be sufficient for the success of the win-win policy. We need immediate physical integration. To just change from one uniform to another and transfer laws into the region under existing leaders was easy phase. I think the model is hard to find in the world. Cambodians have made it happen. Extinguishing the flame of war using the win-win policy, we have conducted immediately the policy of integration through infrastructural development. In former battlefields or non-combating area like Mondulkiri, Ratanakiri, Stoeng Treng, etc., those who settled in disconnection have reestablished connection in the recent years.
We also narrow down the gap in education between rural and urban area. Formerly threatened and destroyed by war and ideology, now schools have sprung up everywhere. Everyone deserves praise and respect for sharing effort to make this new situation possible. I would take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks for the people and former forces of all parties for faithfully participating in the implementation of the policy that I term “win-win policy” to bring our country peace, national reconciliation, which are the foundations for our country’s development to the present. It is worth reminding that war would have extensive impacts beyond the place where it happen as the whole country would have to engage in one way or the other.
While appreciating and thanking the efforts made by the Ministries of Transports and Public Works, Economy and Finance, and relevant institutions, I would also like to emphasize my gratefulness to de-mining groups involved. In this area, we all know, there are still mines. In Cambodia, for every construction project, we must add cost of de-mining and demolishing of UXOs left from the time of war. For the same project, it may cost lower in other countries than in Cambodia because they do not have to add up this cost since those countries do not go through war. As for Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, every project will bear the cost. Trained de-miners help with the tasks in the country but we also send them to do the job in Lebanon, Sudan and Mali. In fact, those de-miners trained for peacekeeping mission under the flag of the United Nations have involved, as part of their training, with de-mining of every project, of which clearing mines from the Mekong riverbed for bridge construction is also included.
We now have a new governor for the province of Battambang, HE Chan Sophal. Formerly he was the head of councilors of the province of Siem Reap. As we need HE Prach Chan to lead a new province, the province of Tbong Khmum, we transfer HE Chan Sophal to Battambang. However, for HE Prach Chan, we are going to issue official appointment by royal decree after the commune councilors’ elections. On the occasion that the road construction is complete, I am so grateful to every institution involved since we had a hard time with the BOT way of getting this road built. It dragged on and on until HE Sar Kheng requested in his many letters to me to leave the BOT implementation by so and so companies for this road out of option.
It is true now that more people died of traffic accidents in Cambodia than in the time of war. When in the time of war there had been some days or weeks that no one dies, the traffic accidents these days have caused death of five people at least per day. Taking this average figure into calculation, in one year about two thousand Cambodians died from traffic accidents. Thousands maimed from it. With this shocking figure, I am pleading our people for respect of their lives. I would urge more understanding, respect and love for one another when you are commuting by either means. The Cambodian New Year is up ahead. I want everyone to welcome the new deity.
Thanks People for Voting RGC’s Priority
On behalf of Samdech Chea Sim, Samdech Heng Samrin, the Cambodian People’s Party and myself, I would like to express my sincere thanks to the people for voting in support of the Cambodian People’s Party. With your support, I am here today to put into official use the national road 57B. It is my wish to reassure that the policy of infrastructural development – mainly roads, electricity, irrigation and human resources – continues to be the CPP-led Royal Government’s priority. The Cambodian People’s Party has adhered to no demagogy. Every policy we issue is real. We are putting into practice the construction of roads as we are doing today.
The Cambodian people have voted to express their political choice for real policy. They understand very well that without roads, bridges, irrigation, electricity and human resource, nothing could have happened. While tackling various social and educational issues, as well as others, the CPP-led Royal Government has continued to focus on infrastructural development as its priority to address the need and aspiration of the people as well as those of the regional community – the Greater Mekong Sub-region and the ASEAN Economic Community’s connectivity, are included.
In 2015, there will be flow of people and business to and from one another. There are good roads inside Vietnam and Thailand. We cannot afford to leave our road and bridge infrastructure in the insufficient state. We need a fair amount of capital to continue to invest in infrastructural development. We need to replace people’s hardship in travelling with better road and shorter time to go from A to B. We now have more good roads built but it is also urgent for us to exercise maintenance and care. Overloading brings about road damages and/or broken bridges.
While the majority of the Cambodian people voted in support of the CPP’s continued leadership of the country, some (politicians) have brought up the issue of similar faces still lead the CPP-led Royal Government. I do not think we can go to beauty or cosmetic parlor to change our faces. What is the point since Hun Sen would still be the one, Sar Kheng would still be the one, Ke Kim Yan would still be the one, Yim Chay Ly would still be the one, Serei Kosal would still be the one, and so on. It is beyond belief they got such thing to say. What happens when faces of the opposition leaders are still the same? They say so since 2003 – it is ten years now. I think in ten more years, if they are the same faces to criticize us for being the same, we will still be the same people.
As of now, I have 16 grandchildren and the 17th one is on the way. I am waiting to see who, among my children, will have more children. The one with the most children, I will give my house to. I wanted to see a team of footballers. Among the sixteen grandchildren, ten are male and 6 are female. If the next one is going to be a boy, we will have a team of 11 footballers. My daughter in law has gone to the UK to receive her Ph D in Public Health. It is my worry now to make sure that the grandchildren will make it that far as their parents./.