Going Shenzhen’s Way
I have a great pleasure to return once again to this Special Economic Zone (in the province of Preah Sihanouk) to celebrate the presence of its 100th factory investment. In February 2008, eight years ago, we did not have anything here. Today, we have up to 100 factories/enterprises, which provide jobs for over 10,000 workers and will produce for export to foreign destinations. Please allow me to wish our Cambodian workers and leaders in SEZ the four Buddhist blessings. Yesterday was the first day of Ramadan, as we have quite a number of workers from the Muslim community, I would also call on Allah to bestow upon them his care and peace. I am also wishing eternal bond between Cambodia and China. Though the Chinese New Year is four months back, I think it is still not too late to wish them Gong Xi Fa Cai.
Adding more to my pleasure is the fact that I sit here presiding over the ceremony with HE Luo Zhijun, Party Secretary of Jiangsu province, and HE Bu Jianguo, Ambassador of the Republic of China to the Kingdom of Cambodia, to welcome the 100th established factory in the Preah Sihanoukville’s SEZ. I could say that I am here to see a child. Why do I say so? I was his midwife. Were there no actions taken by Hun Sen, would there be any factories/enterprises in the whole country? I came here myself in February 2008. It was cooler and attendants were in their thick clothes. The breeze came from north. We had in mind then to have a Shenzhen-modelled SEZ.
Shenzhen is a city not far from (immediately north of) Hong Kong. In the past, it was not a development zone. Thanks to the economic reform policy initiated and put into action by Chairman Deng Xiaoping, Shenzhen has become a SEZ and a development model, its people enjoy higher incomes. Cambodian dream seems to be far away but we must nurture our ambition or we would not have anything come our way. It is true that Preah Sihanouk’s geographical condition is not similar to Shenzhen but we have similar objective for our Sihanoukville province to go Shenzhen’s way.
Preah Sihanoukville SEZ Welcomes All
I am truly proud with the fact that Cambodian and Chinese private sectors worked together on the establishment of SEZ here. Today we also have the presence of Luo Zhijun’s father. I visited their homes in China. The person who just made a speech is his son and he is the one who joined with Oknha Lao Mengkhin and Lok Chumteav Chroeung Sopheap to set up SEZ here. In fact the project has had the supports of the two governments, and on Chinese side from the time of President HE Hu Jintao and Prime Minister HE Wen Jiabao, and now President HE Xi Jinping and Prime Minister HE Li Keqiang. We have agreements to support SEZ in the province of Preah Sihanouk. We wanted to make it successful.
It is not just a simple dream. It is a true that we have been working on establishing win-win position for Cambodian economy and for investments from foreign countries. According to the report, we have investments from eight countries in SEZ of Preah Sihanoukville, in which 81 factories/enterprises coming from China, two from Japan, two from the US, one from France, one from Korea, one from Ireland, one from Vietnam and one from Thailand. As you can see, the SEZ of Preah Sihanoukville not only hosts factories from China, but from anywhere, without discrimination, for investment.
Cambodia has been putting out one after the other its rectangular strategy platform, which coincidentally indeed allows us to coordinate with oversea investment policy of China. When we have this policy of industrial development for 2015 through to 2025 in place, again, coincidentally, there are policies of “one belt, one road” and “the 21st Century Maritime Silk Route Economic Belt” put out by President Xi Jinping. It is a very good point. It is a good chance for Cambodia to attract supports from the Government of the People’s Republic of China to send more factories/enterprises for investment in the city of Preah Sihanouk. I hope HE Luo Zhijun, Party Secretary of Jiangsu province, will urge investors from that part of China, not just Jiangsu, to come here.
Cambodia-China Growing Relations
I have always said to the Chinese friends that Cambodia is looking for arrival of 0.01% of its tourists. Some people laughed. Why I said 0.01%? There are 1,300 million people in China. 0.01% of this figure would bring us to 1.3 million. China has a huge economy and they have many investors going abroad. Comprehensive strategic partnership, declared since December 2010, between the Kingdom of Cambodia and the People’s Republic of China, has allowed the two countries’ relation to grow steadily. With the visit of HM the King to the People’s Republic of China last week setting out further roadmap, coupled with meetings I have had with President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang, I hope that trade relation and volume between the two countries will continue to grow. Let us applaud the presence of the 100th enterprise in SEZ of the Preah Sihanoukville.
Just Leadership Brings Peace and Stability
Please allow me to elaborate a little concerning job creation and production in Cambodia for export. I walked here passing by various groups of people. Only one small group told me they earned 140 USD salary per month. As for others, they affirmed their earning in the territory between 200 USD and 300 USD. Would you, workers in SEZ, see that as Prime Minister, I should work on (attracting more investments) or not? Firstly, I bet my life to liberate the country. I bet it again to implement win-win policy to bring the country peace it needed. However, peace is not enough. We need country’s development. Being an agricultural country, it is not sufficient to carry out policy in agriculture. We must seek as many economic players as we can. In the province of Preah Sihanouk, agriculture is one issue but its main economic players would be industry and service. We must make further efforts to make Preah Sihanouk a high-income province.
Governor Yun Min made a report about progress made in the province of Preah Sihanouk. While in the whole country, people’s income is nearly 1,300 USD per person, in Preah Sihanouk province, people’s income has reached over 1,800 USD already. As one of the leaders of the Cambodian People’s Party, with the late Samdech Chea Sim, whose one-year demise anniversary will come tomorrow, and Samdech Heng Samrin, I would seek your judgment if what I have done for the country responds to the aspiration of the Cambodian people or not? Ending the regime of Pol Pot and war, bringing peace for the country, and attracting factories/enterprises from China for SEZ here, are these actions right or wrong.
Two-Way Relations of Employers and Employees
I may send a message not only for over ten thousand workers in SEZ of the Preah Sihanoukville, but also for over one million workers in the whole Kingdom of Cambodia, working in industry and service, that whether what we have done bring income for workers or not. Should factories in here close down, you may have to return to working in field. I hope that workers must work to preserve their cooking pot. They must consider SEZ and factories in which they are working a rice cooking pot. Please do not forget that when investors move out of Cambodia, the first to lose are workers themselves. It is true that factory owners may encounter hardships but they will not continue with their investments. They would move to another place. When incidents caused damages to factories and scared them, who would come to invest? When our workers become jobless, automatically you will go back to farming with parents or working as informal workers who would sell labor on an hour or day basis.
I learned that factories and workers in SEZ of the province of Sihanouk have enjoyed good harmonization. I would take this opportune moment to appeal to managers of every factories or the whole SEZ to make effort for coordination because workers and factories owners’ relations are one with complementary role. Should there be no owners of factories, there would not be workers. Owners spent their money to build factories and create jobs for workers. Owners also had to think that though they could build factories, without workers they are just buildings. They both must see each other, I advise, as one with whom they have to work for economic progress.
As long as workers are doing great jobs, output would goes high. Employers will have to look into possibility of increasing salary for workers, while making a good understanding of workers’ life. They both must refrain from making a big fuss out of small problem. Solve the problem immediately as in a family. In the past, Cambodia was purely agricultural country and its volume of apparel export in 1994 was only four million USD. Now, apparel export stands at nine billion USD. Our trade volume with China reached over four billion USD and we have aimed to bring it next year to five billion USD. With Vietnam, it is three billion USD and with Thailand – four billion USD. Cambodia no longer a country that only imports. It also exports.
Cambodia Is Crisis Free; Promoting Peace, Political Stability and Development
It is quite fortunate that in the province of Preah Sihanouk, we have a blue seaport to serve export. Those who invest in SEZ are among the ones who benefit from less cost of transportations because it is close to the port. In the policy framework of the Cambodian Industrial Development between 2015 and 2025, we wish to transform Preah Sihanouk into industrialized zone, along with progress made in service sector to provide accommodations and attract more tourists. In the service sector, there has been an employment of over 8,000 people. There are many tourist coming every year. In 2015, we have a record of over 1.5 million tourists […]
You may have known how to dance twisting your heels. It is a joyful day, not a sad day. The factories/enterprises allow you one day off. You may want to dance. This is a true Cambodia. Cambodia is not in crisis. People who put themselves in crisis may see that it is their problem. They made it. It is their mess. I have nothing to do with it. My responsibility is to involve in safeguarding peace, political stability, social order, progress and development, while helping people to deal with their hardships. We have proven to do so in our large-scale campaign to distribute clean water for people in time of drought […]
Travelling from Phnom Penh to a ceremony to inaugurate a Buddhist temple in Takeo province, coming by the market in Kompot, and today I have a joyful moment with all of you. I have come into meeting with Buddhism, Islam, traders, and tourists. I have met today workers in SEZ. I hope that our people continue to support this development approach rather than facing with turmoil. As president of the Cambodian People’s Party, one of the many important leaders, and in my capacity as Prime Minister and candidate for the post of premiership for coming mandates, I am resolutely determined to defend peace, political stability, and to promote development […]
I put on a shirt just like you. My wife said I look younger. You may remember a song “people said I am old, words coming from girls …” My wife said I am still young. I do not want to become old. This is an era that people enjoy themselves. When I was 8 years old, war broke out. Later I became a soldier and was injured five times and lost an eye. It is with these that I would not allow anyone, no matter how perfidious s/he may be destroy our hard-won peace. At whatever cost, we will defend peace, development and progress of every Cambodian people./.