Youth Volunteers Group 23 and 139 in the District of Stoeng Trang
Nephews and nieces, sons and daughters, today I have a great pleasure to be in my native district and to preside over the job that is relating directly to our people’s interest after the measuring efforts by the youth and student volunteers in the region. The heroic youth volunteers of group 23 led by Chou Danit has been fulfilling their missions in three districts now – first, the district of O Raing Ov, where the provincial governor of Kompong Cham already handed out the land titles; second, the district of Stoeng Trang’s Prek Kak commune; and third, the district of Dambe. As far as I know, the group 23 youth volunteers was requested for a mission to Tuol Sambuor, but because it consists of numerous female members, the group has then been delegated to work in the district of Dambe instead.
Listening to the interview conducted by (CNC TV announcers Sam Chaya and Ms Thana) it seems that Chou Danit has a crush on a daughter of some people in Dambe district. He said daughters of those in Stoeng Trang do not catch his eyes. Please do not underrate children in Stoeng Trang. I am one of the sons from Stoeng Trang too. I also learnt that the youth volunteers group 139 is going to measure land in Tuol Sambuor. Did you get to Tradak Porng? I was there when I was a poor lad. It is unfortunate that a huge Cambodian tree, probably the oldest one there, is no longer in sight. The tree’s top was an attractive place always for Marabu to build its nest and breed. The big tree is gone now.
My native village – Peam Koh Sna – is on the other side of the river but we crossed the river there to cultivate rice in Tuol Sambuor, where we had both higher and lower rice fields. I do not know what happens to those lands now because since the time of Pol Pot, my family never cares to claim back the lands that we had there. I could recall that we had over ten hectares of land and one of them named Kanseng was more than one hectare and there was another field that was even bigger. We had higher rice fields in Tradak Porng and lower rice fields in Veal La. I lived at Tradak Porng for about 13 years only. I left the village and spent most of my time living in Dambe, Mehmot, Tbong Khmum where you are now working.
Prime Ministers from Stoeng Trang District, Techo in the 21 Century
I would like to remind you that the district of Stoeng Trang of Kompong Cham province has produced three Prime Ministers for Cambodia. The first one was In Tam and the second one was Hang Thun Hak. The third Prime Minister from there is Hun Sen. I doubt what does the land have to produce three Prime Ministers for the country. Among the three, In Tam, died in the United States, and Hang Thun Hak, killed by Pol Pot, was among those set the fire of war. They both were Prime Ministers for the Lon Nol’s regime and supported the coup against Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk.
I am the one that responded to the appeal of Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk to stand up against the foreign invasion. On this note, between I and the two other Prime Ministers, we are completely different. The remaining Prime Minister of Stoeng Trang is now holding the title of Techo. In the Cambodian history, we had a Techo Meas and Techo Yat, in the 17th or 18th century. We now have another Techo in the 21 century and it is the son of Stoeng Trang people. I doubt if anyone from Stoeng Trang will reach this position. Despite the fact that I said all this, you may not hold me for being factionalism or cronyism.
I never came to Steong Trang district for a long time after 2005 when I came to preside over the groundbreaking of a pagoda in the commune of Peam Koh Sna and again in 2006 to the pagoda of Tuol Sambuor. It has been six years now. People in Stoeng Trang may be of the opinion that having become very important person I turned out to forget my native village. It is on the contrary, the more frequently I would come, people would take me to be regionalism. It is for this reason that I am asking for understanding from the people of Stoeng Trang district.
Being Responsible, Apology and Correction
Look, here we have over one thousand families but there are only 178 hectares of land. That is just land for residence. I also have some of my relatives living here. Here lived the father of Di Lamthol and Di Lamthal. I think the latter is still living in Phnom Penh. I do not know that making state investment of the rubber enterprise has brought these problems. I am so sorry and beg those of you who are living here for understanding. I also learnt that there were people who propagandized last night that “provision of land title today is for political gain prior to the elections and those titles will be confiscated after the elections.” Why should I take them back? I advised and urged those under my command to give land to the people and reprimanded them when they did not give me one good reason why they did not give the land to the people.
Please allow me to take this chance to clarify that it would not be correct to reprimand the rubber company/enterprise for this matter. The company/enterprise begged us to cut those lands out and give them to the people because while we give the plantation to them for investment, with existing problem, it is like giving them a bomb. The company/enterprise could not do anything but would confront with the people. It would not be appropriate to place all mistakes on the company/enterprise, communes, district and/or provinces. In the Cabinet’s meeting the other day I said that a number of people should be caned. HE Sim Vanna should get 20 strokes, former Chairman of Boeng Ket Rubber Enterprise and now Secretary of State for Agriculture HE Chan Tong Iv, 50 strokes, Deputy Prime Minister HE Sok An, Chief of the State Investment Board on Rubber Enterprise, 70 strokes, and Hun Sen 100 strokes, because he is the last to be responsible. However, it is not my habit to place responsibility on other people but take my own responsibility. I beg for your understanding while making correction like what I have been doing about the fishing lots.
The 1985 CPP Congress Recommended Privately Grown Rubber Plantations
I became the Prime Minister in January 1985 and my first and immediate task was to launch a land reform policy. It is obvious that the issue of land and land reform is not a new matter for the Cambodian People’s Party or for Hun Sen personally. At the time, the state rubber plantations mushroomed everywhere covering also private rubber plantations in various locations.
I could also recall that in 2000, from the pagoda of Jamka Malu, there was a big flood too that year, I instructed the rubber plantation companies/enterprises to cut out the privately grown rubber land for the people. It was then that we started the process of returning the privately grown rubber plantations from the state registered rubber land holdings to the people.
Charging No Land Tax, Making People Rich
(Talking about) land tax, the rubber company subjects to similar tax placed from before. We do not apply, for rubber land, a tax system that is in place for the economic land concession. We would allow increase only 1% per annum and not 5%. Let me talk a bit more about not charging tax on land. The international financial institutions urged me many times to impose tax on land use. I always responded that the biggest issue for us now is not to charge the farmers land taxes but to measure and give lands out to the people free of charge. What income do we expect then? When our farmers are richer, they will spend more. While spending, take for instance they buy refreshments, they would pay for the refreshment, and plus 10% as value added tax. The most important thing here is to make our people rich.
For those who consume alcohol, in addition to the 10% value added tax, they would have to pay 25% extra for excise. It was from this excise that we have been able to pay for lighting at night in the city. The rubber plantation at Boeng Ket auctioned at 9.3 million USD and the tax on rubber land started since then. If they could get 4000 USD for every ton of rubber they export, the company will have to pay the state another 300 USD per ton. We first got the nine million USD auction and then we charge tax on land. While paying tax, the company would try to produce and export in big quantity. In that instance, it would be ideal if the company could find a partner like Bridgestone, for example, to invest in producing tyres using raw materials from Boeng Ket.
Cutting Rubber Land for People
In the past, I used to ride a bicycle with my brother, Hun Neng, to look for a lost dog. That has brought us to various places. I learnt then that this place was not a rubber plantation area. This has proved by the fact that we now have 157 families with 1,297 land holdings but the total area is only 178 hectares. One day in April or May, my son’s phone accidentally connected to mine without his knowledge. He was in a conversation with commune head and members of the CPP working team to the commune of Prek Kak.
I probed the matter further later and I learnt in detail about what happened to this land issue. I then sent Deputy Prime Minister Bin Chhin to review the situation followed by the work primarily carried out by the Kolbot Khmer team, in which my son together with an under Secretary of State for Trade are also members.
In a VDO Conference, the Governor of Kompong Cham province told me “Samdech, your commune went into auction already.” I was astonished and found it hard to accept that. How would you do such a thing? They ordered pagodas, mosques, houses, communal office and the CPP office out of the area.
If there were more of such people under my command, I would be confused. It is quite fortunate that I come to learn about it soon enough. With the provision of land ownerships to the people today, please accept my apology for the situation that placed you in concerns since early 2008. This is the matter that we cannot find the company’s faults. What was the main constrain though was that the company had had to confront with this situation after winning the auction.
Today I am making correction by cutting these lands (from of the state registration) and return them to the people. You may see the papers and no one could annul them. No matter where these people come from, they all now have their lands measured and land ownerships given.
No One Should Order the Youth Volunteers Around
There is one issue that I need to bring up here as it is a dangerous situation. I am also appealing to our people and officials not to do illegal thing of that sort. I am asking HE Im Chhun Lim to proceed on this case with the court. Yesterday I proposed to HM the King to remove Doen Sovan from his rank as a General, the position of advisor to the Ministry of Interior and the police force. Let me read the whole letter (that Doen Sovan writes to the Governor of the District of Veal Veng, Chief of the District Office of Land Management, Urbanization Planning and Construction, the Thmodar Commune Head to get the youth volunteers to measure land for him and his family).
Here we do not take this point of buying or not into consideration but this chap forcefully demanded the youth volunteers to measure land for him. I gave my instruction in red ink and requested HE Sar Kheng to send me Doen Sovan’s ID number so that I could file a request to HM the King to remove him from his positions. There has a long process from land measuring to titling. How could this three Star General order the students to measure land for him? He even threatened in his writing at the end of the letter to take the matter to court …
In its first move, the Royal Government will take administrative measure to remove him from his rank… This chap misinterpreted my words too. I would seek HE Im Chhun Lim to convene a meeting of the lawyers to figure out (this man’s action) in comparison to the existing law. The land in question is in fact in the white area along the Cambodian-Thai border that both Cambodia and Thai would not allow each other to do anything in this area yet. It is even more so when the land does not belong in the established cadastral index map and register.
CPP to Work on the Salary Policy for 2013-2018 Term
There have been some who interpreted that Hun Sen is against the salary increment. I never object it. What I am objecting to is the way you do to increase the salary. Since 2008, the Royal Government increases 20% salary per annum and it will be so until 2013. You may add them up to find out how much has increased. I do not bother engaging in words because it is the time for Pjum Ben but they do not seem to care. Let me tell you that the Cambodian People’s Party is in the process of formulating a policy on salary for the term of 2013 through to 2018 … ◙