The NR 62 Project Completed Prior to Schedule
I am so happy to come back here and meet all of you once again after I first came with HE Zhan Jinfeng, former Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Cambodia to launch the groundbreaking ceremony to build this National Road 62 on January 27, 2010. I would like to take this opportune moment to express my sincere appreciation to the good words by HE Pan Guangxue, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, about the past relations and cooperation and his prediction of the future friendship relations between our two countries – Cambodia and China.
Please allow me to take this opportune moment to express my sincere thank and appreciation to the efforts made by the Ministries of Public Works and Transports, of Economy and Finance and related institutions, and through the embassy of the People’s Republic of China to those of the Chinese friends and economic consultants for a wonderful cooperation in getting this construction project fulfilled prior to the schedule, which should be mid of 2013. It is so fortunate that the Shanghai Construction Group Co. Ltd, with the consultancy provided by Guangzhou Wanan Construction Supervision Co. Ltd, has been able to complete the project ahead of schedule. In fact the road construction was completed since June 2012 and has been put for public use since.
It is with this pleasure that I would like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to the authority of all levels for providing protection and to the Cambodian people for their good cooperation with the companies so that the road construction in the region is fulfilled successfully. I also thank the engineering team of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces for their contribution in clearing mines and UXOs on an area of 3,527,400 square meters. They found 188 anti-personal mines, two anti-tank mines, 502 pieces of unexploded ordnances and some nine tons of remnants of war.
I should remind us all a bit about the construction of the NR 62, which before was the impassable NR 12 due to war and no maintenance. Even during UNTAC (United Nations Transitional Authority for Cambodia) time, there was fighting in this area. (The former Khmer Rouge force) also placed logs across the road to slow down if not preventing completely traveling through this road into their area. I think we have some commanders with us here today. You may want to ask Mr. Yim Pim and Pen Voy if they laid mines in the area or not. These commanders – one is the head of division 3 and another is the head of division 42 – are now military generals of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.
In this meaning, the win-win policy has offered our country the best chance. Our brothers and sisters from the other side (former Khmer Rouge force), who laid those mines during the war time, have now come out to demine them. The win-win policy has transformed the state in which Cambodians killed other Cambodians to a chance that we could do everything altogether. Since 1998, the win-win policy being put into practice, the country being reunited, Cambodians no longer die or maim from internal conflict. What remains to be fulfilled is to continue to rebuild what have been damaged from the war that broke out in 1970.
Due to war consequence, the NR 12 has been considered one heavily mined. As we have achieved a durable peace, we have now the best chance to build more roads. HE Pan Guangxue and I, and it was the same when his predecessor HE Zhan Jinfeng was here, we came together to observe the groundbreaking ceremony of the northern segment of the National Road 62 from Tbeng Meanjei city to the temple of Preah Vihear and then the southern segment of the NR 62 from Kompong Thom to the city of Tbeng Meanjei. In December 2011, HE Pan Guangxue and I came here to put into official use the northern segment of the NR 62 and today, we are here again to officially inaugurate the southern segment of the NR 62. The NR 62 is now complete and there is a road linking it to the Koh Ker area.
According to the excerpt from the website of my cabinet, at the time that I was here with HE Zhan Jinfeng, I said: “I have a great pleasure to achieve this ambition that HE Zhan Jinfeng said it is a big ambition. It is true that I have a big ambition and even bigger for our people and nation, not for myself.”
We should not forget that in 2009 the Ketsana typhoon landed in Kompong Thom province, especially the district of Sandan. It was in the same year that I went to Chengdu city of Sichuan province (of the People’s Republic of China – PRC) to participate in the Chinese exhibition. At the time HE Wen Jiabao of the PRC provided me with a sum of 100 million Yuan, which I proposed to set 50 million Yuan for use in the rehabilitation of damages caused by the Ketsana typhoon and the flood of the Mekong River. Later on I proposed (to the Chinese friend) the project to build the NR 67 from Preah Vihear province to Stoeng Treng.
Following what I said on 27 January 2010, the construction of the NR 67 with the total length of 134 Kilometers and another bridge across the Mekong River were launched in Stoeng Treng province on 5 may 2012. This has illustrated that my ambition has been framed within an infrastructural master plan. It is important that we have to have vision and clear plan or not only would Cambodian itself have difficulty in defining what to do but the Chinese friends, who would provide us money, also are not able to provide us in accordance with our prioritized needs. I am sure that in his term, HE Pan Guangxue, as that of HE Zhan Jinfeng, would have to travel a lot and frequently with me to launch the road and/or bridge constructions and to put them into official use too.
At the time that HE He Guoqiang, Permanent Member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China, came to visit Cambodia, we signed for the construction of two more roads – 1) the enlargement of the 240 Kilometers national road from the NR 6A juncture to Prek Kadam all the way to the province of Siem Reap, via Kompong Thom, and 2) the construction of the NR 44, which will link the NR 4 through to Oral of Kompong Speu province. As you know, we have reconstructed the segment of NR 6A into four lanes and the project has been implemented by the Chinese companies with the Chinese funding. However, the state of the road from the NR 6A juncture to Prek Kadam to Skun (of Kompong Cham) and Kompong Thom is in inadequate condition. The segment from Kompong Thom to Siem Reap province is in a better state.
It is in this thought that we have to rebuild the NR from NR 6A juncture to Prek Kadam to Skun, Kompong Thom and to Siem Reap into a twelve-meter wide road with thick bitumen. It will become a standard road of the central part of Cambodia which links the capital city of Phnom Penh to provinces to facilitate free flow of tourists and transportation of agricultural produce. Talking about this, in the past six months, we have received over 1.7 million tourists. It would be helpful if we have better road condition as that will facilitate further flow of tourists, while ensuring that people’s living conditions in rural areas will further improve.
Let me stress that in 2013, we will need more roads as proposed to me by the Ministries of Transports and Public Works, and Economy and Finance. I also approve the proposed project. They will be the 190 Kilometers NR 55 which will extend from Pursat to Phnom Kravanh and on to Viel Veng, Thmar Da at the border with Thailand, the NR 23 in the commune of Peam Raing Loeu, the NR 118 in the district of Loeuk Dek, a bridge in the district of Koh Thom, and the NR 2 from Bati to Takeo town.
(Based on the project that we have submitted to the PRC to seek their financial support in 2013) there will be four major roads. First, it is the NR 50C to link the Phsar Kraom of Kompong Chhonang to the village of Rokar, the commune of Srayov, Kompong Thom province, and also a bridge of 3,500 meters across the river of Tonle Sap. This will allow people in Kompong Thom and Kompong Chhonang to be able to go to and from by crossing the bridge over the river of Tonle Sap. People no longer have to detour the river/lake to Pursat and Battambang on one front and to Prek Kadam as another anymore. The people of Kompong Thom will benefit from this marvelous achievement thanks to the project to be submitted in 2013 and the construction would commence in 2014.
I wish to inform you of another project, which is also beneficial for the people of Kompong Thom, for the period between 2015 and 2017. Among all 13 road projects, the people of Kompong Thom would enjoy the benefit from the construction of the NR 60B which will go from the district of Kompong Thmar to the city of Kratie via the NR 7 across the Mekong River. It will be the most direct link from Kratie to Kompong Thom. I wish HE Pan Guangxue informs the government of the People’s Republic of China so as to provide support to the project. In all we will have some twenty more roads to seek funding from China.
Just now HE Sun Chantol has reported to me of a project that will study the possibility to build a road from Battambang to Siem Reap across the river of Tonle Sap. I also learnt that the feasibility has been conducted one by a Chinese company and another by Asian Development Bank. It will be the most direct road between the two cities/provinces. People in Battambang and Siem Reap provinces will be able to travel to and from without having to detour to Svay Sisophon of Banteay Meanjei. The people of Pursat will also benefit.
These are some of the visions for infrastructural constructions which have not yet completed despite the fact that most of the projects have been financed by the People’s Republic of China. In the future, we will have a number of roads, including the one of 86 Kilometers from Sambo Prey Kuh to Kompong Thom, to be constructed by national budget. I am so happy and hoping that these projects will surely enjoy the people’s supports. Months ago I watched the reportage by Bayon TV on the benefit of the NR 62. Interviewee also told Ouk Piseith of CNC TV too about how difficult it was in both rainy and dry seasons. There won’t be more dirt any more.
What remains to be our concern is the issue of traffic and accident. Who causes the accident? In the past, accidents were caused by war and mines. At present accident is caused by traffic accident. We have better roads now. So I advise our people to follow instructions as is portrayed in the report by HE Tram Iv Toek, Minister of Public Works and Transport on issue relating to traffic safety such as refraining from over-speeding, drunk driving and/or sleepy driving.
People who will benefit from this road are those living along the road itself and those who travel on it. Once we have a new road built between Preah Vihear and Stoeng Treng, people in these provinces can shorten their traveling time to and fro without making a detour. In the past, to go from Preah Vihear to Stoeng Treng, Ratanakiri or Mondulkiri, one will have to travel via to NR 7. Now, once it is completed, traveling between Kompong Thom and Kratie, which is only 140 Kilometers, we do not have to travel through the road between Kompong Thom and Stoeng Treng. This will save a lot of gas. In the past, to go to the temple of Preah Vihear, traveling through Siem Reap, one has to take a 546 Kilometers distance from Phnom Penh. With the NR 62 in place, one would travel only 415 Kilometers. This saves us 130 Kilometers or two hours.
The construction of the NR 62 costs 52 million USD by credit from the People’s Republic of China plus some budget of our own, which HE Keat Chhon drafted it, including tax, to be some 12 million USD. This has rounded up the total cost to over 60 million USD.
Let’s talk about the importance of this road. In the past, every trip would take our people like four hours and the cost would be 50,000 Riels. Now the trip would take only one hour and the cost would be 20,000 Riels only. People should consider that the Royal Government puts the deducted amount into our people’s pockets and they have better road to travel on too. We are talking about increasing agricultural production. What good does it do if we do not have road to bring them out to the market. Without the road, the price of product would be high for the cost of transportation has added up. In the end, whatever they produce, people could not make their price competitive in the market.
The same is true, it is difficult for industrial and artisanal products to come to the rural areas as to go to local markets would take a longer time and cost more. Without good road, it is likely that some people could die of simple or treatable diseases. It is in this note that the Royal Government focuses attention on infrastructural construction in relation to systematic transportation by interconnecting one road(s) to another so as to reduce the gap between urban and rural, the rich and the poor and also serving the policy of equitable redistribution of economic growth of the Royal Government of Cambodia.
In this meaning, use of resources received either from foreign loans or grants or national budget, which is a collection of tax paid by the people, on infrastructural investment would have positive effect on promotion of economic growth and its equitable redistribution. The Royal Government is making further efforts to implement its set four priorities – irrigation, road, electricity and human resources.
Having said that does not mean we are neglecting other areas/projects such as tourism, industry or other sectors. As is understood by many tourism, for example, is a sector in which private sector can participate. The state does not have the need to invest in building hotels but to prop up a plan to provide support such as security, public order, sanitation and infrastructure, etc. for the tourism sector. As of the present, it has been reported by TVs that there are plenty of local as well as foreign tourists coming to visit the temple of Preah Vihear.
It is with this development that I am making further efforts, though some have insulted me that(I would) say goodbye in the fifth term. I only want to make them fully aware that once they would be declared winner, I would give them. However, I urge they do not use short cut or any means other than the elections. If the people no longer vote for me, I will step out.
As to one of my pictures used by some CPP communal elections campaign managers in public places which illustrates me waving my hand, a radio commentator said that “Prime Minister Hun Sen waves his hand as a sign of saying goodbye” and then went on to say “Our President waves his hand as a sign that he will get the power.” The 2008 elections passed and now is the year 2012. Hun Sen is still Hun Sen, though the age is different. With the picture that I waved my hand, the CPP has made it from 73 to 90 seats in the National Assembly.
I wish to send a message to them that because of the words they used, more and more people vote for Hun Sen. They now are saying that Hun Sen is afraid of the alliance (between the oppositions). I would urge our people to think of dogs. When s/he is alone, s/he has no one to fight with and nothing to fight for. On the contrary, when there is more than one, dogs they would fight and crash the bowls into pieces. What can one expect, even as one party, their members of the National Assembly have had to split their terms into halves so that they could take turn? When they have two parties in one, who would stand and who would not?
I am ready to welcome and I would not mention this in the National Assembly tomorrow. The fact that I mention it here is because I do not want them to misjudge that we are afraid of their moves. I was not hurt by four B40 grenades and I went to sit in the National Assembly session as if there was nothing happened. Have you ever won the elections? As far as it is known to me there has been chaotic shock as to why so and so is not on the list. Whatever it is, the fifth term elections will take place on 28 July 2013. As HE Tram Iv Toek reiterated what has been said in the Party and in his name as Minister “to support (my candidacy) for the fifth and successive terms thereafter,” I am so concerned of it when I am getting older. At present, I am still fine and can make marathon speech too.
If ever I continue to have the people’s support, all projects or over ten roads – including the one between Kompong Chhonang and Kompong Thom, the one between Kompong Thom and Kratie – will continue. If I no longer stay in power, I would not be responsible for any failure that these projects are not going to be fulfilled. The newcomer to power may do whatever they wish to. They may decide to close all projects because they hate China. They are not happy to see China help Cambodia as they said China is putting pressure on Cambodia. Has HE Pan Guangxue ever pressured me?
I have decided to leave Teheran (where I attended the Non-Aligned Movement meeting) in the morning or afternoon of August 31 and we should be reaching China’s Chengdu before the exhibition opens on September 2. On August 31, I would arrive in Xinjiang late in the evening already. So, let me have a good meal of Chinese food. Please fill in the program for me starting from September 1. If HE Wen Jiabao allows, please arrange the meeting on September 1 as I wish to return to Cambodia on September 2, after the opening of the exhibition. I would be absent from August 29 through to September 2. I have got to rush the program in China because I have an ailing father and a flood risk at home.
In Kompong Thom, the rural development project financed by the Asian Development Bank and the Republic of Korea will build an asphalted road from Sambo Prey Kuh to Sandan district. Now we are talking of asphalting the communal/district roads. As far as this project is concerned, we have not yet asked for Chinese assistance. I think to depend totally on the Asian Development Bank and the Republic of Korea is not sufficient. I would urge HE Tram Iv Toek, HE Sun Chanthol and the Ministry of Economy and Finance to discuss and map out a plan as to how many Kilometers of communal/district asphalted roads and we shall ask China for help. China has got more experiences in managing such a huge country.
The fact that China is able to link up central government with the various provinces, it must have a strong administrative and management system. We should really focus on learning from the Chinese experiences in paving the rural roads and figure out how to fit that into Cambodian context. We should think of how much we need so that we can ask China for help to get the job done.
This is a new initiative in making use of the Chinese fund. I wish HE Pan Guangxue to record it and inform to Premier HE Wen Jiabao and ascertain him that I have said this in public. The road we built covering with laterites could not last longer than six months. Considering my thought that the communal and district roads would be five to six meters-wide, at the rate of 300 or 500 Kilometers per year, I think it would not be too costly. So, if we have secured some 300 or 400 or 500 million USD, we should secure 10% of the amount for this project.
I think that the project will have positive interactions in relation to rural development, alleviating poverty, narrowing down the gap between the rich and the poor and solving issue of migration from rural to urban areas. The Asian Development Bank and the Republic of Korea have helped us with the 505 Kilometers rural roads. I do not know how long it would take for them to approve more of our needs. So, maybe it is quicker to ask this help from China.
Once again I thank HE Pan Guangxue, and through you, convey my sincere appreciation and thanks to leaders, government and people of China for always providing support to the development of the Kingdom of Cambodia, as we are comprehensive strategic partners. The joint declaration issued during the visit of President of the People’s Republic of China and Secretary General of the Chinese Communist Party, HE Hu Jintao, has become a roadmap for the relations between Cambodia and China, especially when the synchronization of (Cambodia’s) rectangular strategy and (PRC’s) five-year plan has been requested.
It is totally the idea of President HE Hu Jintao. He threw out this in the negotiation. He told me he had studied the Cambodian rectangular strategy and thought that it was aligned with the Cambodian political agenda, which China can help in various forms – irrigation system, electricity, water resources, human resources, etc. The synchronization of the two countries’ major (socio-economic) platforms does not require Cambodia to fulfill any duty for China at all but the PRC would have to reserve funding it earmarked for ASEAN for Cambodia.
We have arrived perhaps half the season of rice cultivation now. As of now, according to the statistics I have here, we have cultivated rice on some 70% of the planned area. On my way here, I noticed some about near ripe, ripe and even cultivating rice fields. In some areas I also see green rice field. This year we have achieved more in terms of rice cultivation between rainy and dry season, and dry season rice. Generally we have a small dry period in July but it did not seem to happen this year, except in particular places such as Battambang and Siem Reap provinces.
I thank our people as well as related sections for cooperation to resolve the need for water for drought affected areas. However, we are seeing that rain is coming. What we need to be careful is natural calamity – storm, flood, etc. that can eventually happen anytime. Elderly people observe that flood in the year of dragon is rarely small. Last year we also had a huge flooding and the people of Kompong Thom suffered severely too.
The people of Kompong Thom suffered two disasters in three years with one free year in between. In 2009, they had Ketsana storm and in 2011 they had flood from the Tonle Sap lake which rose as high as the National Road in between the district of Sandan and the NR 6. Everyone was so busy helping our people and I am also happy to see that our people have rehabilitated in the post flood period.
I did issue an order then when I came to the district of Baray to review the flooding that no one was left to die of hunger without our knowledge and effort to resolve the problem. The situation that someone dies of hunger is no longer a fact in Cambodia. No matter how big and serious the flood has been, million of people survive and no one is left to die of hunger.
I would seek our people’s understanding that according to our estimate of flood risk situation. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Economy and Finance, HE Keat Chhon proposed to me to halt provisionally the construction projects in various sites, especially those along the Mekong River. However, with this instruction issued, construction projects in highland areas are to continue normally.
We have got to halt some of the project sites so as to evade the possibility that the newly built works would be destroyed by flooding. I am sure our people will understand that we have to refrain from wasting money due to flood. However, if the flood is in small scale, we would advise all construction sites to resume immediately. This halt is just provisional.
I would urge people who are living along the Mekong and the Tonle Sap Rivers and other flood affecting places, to get themselves ready and identified their safe highland areas. For people in Kompng Thom it seems that a number of highland areas have been identified, which some are scattering around. HE Nhem Vanda of the National Committee for Disaster Management has been going from province to province to identify those areas in the light of the 2011 flooding experience. It is better to prevent than to cure.
I urge all radios and TVs, state and private, to broadcast news about the weather condition and meteorological updates. The national TV seems to have been doing regularly, though I urge that they do it at a more frequent manner as this sort of news evolves so fast. I urge the radios especially, no matter whom they support, to broadcast the news because our people could benefit from it in their daily life.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks for the authorities of the province of Kompong Thom, the district of Kompong Svay and other provinces for welcoming and giving care to the youth volunteers to measure land and prepare the title for the people. I am so happy to see that the new action in accordance with the existing policy are a deep rooted reform on land issue and has been well received by the people.
In Kompong Thom province, HE Chea Chanto and Lok Chumteav, HE Nguon Nhel and other leaders, such as HE Thaong Khon, have gone to visit the youth volunteers and I urge that all provinces work together to provide care for them. I left these children with you all – Excellencies, Lok Chumteavs, fathers, mothers, uncles and aunts, sisters and brothers – while they fulfill their missions in your places. These youth volunteers have also performed various humanitarian works such as mending leakages in classroom’s roofs and/or walls. In one of the Cabinet’s meeting, the youth volunteers from Uddar Meanjei province have requested for four school buildings, two water reservoirs and a 25 Kilometers road. Aside from materials, they also have shared their knowledge with the people and help with financial difficulties of some poor families too.
That I have responded positively to the youth volunteers’ request is for them to have chances to participate not only in measuring land for the people but also carrying out various social works. Please allow me to express my profound thanks to their parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts and wives or partners of those youth volunteers for allowing them to be in this mission. I am sure that these volunteers will gain more knowledge and know how as they learnt from the people’s difficult life, and also the way to cook.
I am sure that having learnt these they would become good civil servants, husbands, wives, and parents thereafter. They know about people’s hardships. Shortly, we will send some ten groups more to target provinces. My wife talked to those youths and learnt of where would need the jacket coats. I order that everyone must be given a jacket coat now and a rain coat on top for land survey personnel who have not got the rain coat from the start. It is better to give them now because the temperature at night could be harsh in some places.
Let me share with you some of the data that the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction sent to me last night. We have measured in all some 172,845 hectares, whereas 95,068 families have been registered and 78,433 families have been verified. We have measured some 74,047 land holdings. We will have to work on 5000 families more to reach 100,000 families compared to our plan to measure some 1,200,000 hectares of land for 300,000 families.
In the past people cultivated land in fear of being chased out and their cultivated land would be confiscated because they never have ownership titles. As they now have land ownership titles I suggest that they build a more steady home and grow more strategic crops as no one would chase them from their lands. I am also insisting that you do not sell these lands but keep them for your children. Another proposal that I must bring to your attention today is that you must not claim new land. Recently, while we are measuring and preparing to issue land titles for people, some have come from unknown places and pointed their fingers claiming their lands are from here to here and demanded that the youth volunteers measure for them.
As we cannot do that for them, we suggest that they go to verify their identifications at the local authority they are living in so that we will be able to provide them with social land concession. We have hundreds of thousand hectares of land to be given out to really landless people. Let me fit in with the fact that the Manual on Poverty Level in Cambodia prepared by the Ministry of Planning has been very helpful. I think we can check against this Manual to identify who really is landless and give him/her three, four or five hectares of land for them to cultivate. So those of you who do not have land should not be fooled by rogue people to claim land illegally because the Royal Government will provide land as social concession to you.
I would also inform the people in Kompong Thom that the youth volunteers, who had a break from their mission to see their families and would return on August 9, will have to delay one more day to August 10 so that they could stay home and listen to the presentation of border issue of the Kingdom of Cambodia, especially that with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Those of you on the missions are also having one day off tomorrow for similar reason. All of you should rally where you have access to TV or radio and I am sure there are plenty of them.
The government officials and the armed forces will go to work as usual but can also listen to the presentation which will be broadcasting live on TV and radio from the National Assembly plenary session. As I will dig out all concerning this issue, please prepare the means from which people can listen and see it. I am sure there are TVs in every noodle shop, taxi station, café, etc. in Phnom Penh. It is going to be a historic documentation and wherever possible, people can record it. This is an historic issue to be presented by the Prime Minister himself. In the past responses had been made only in written form but this time in verbal presentation. As we have many slides to show all along, I may need at least four hours.
Yesterday I worked till 2pm before I could get a break for lunch. Last night I stayed till 9pm to get all documentation together. This morning I have asked for more documents to back up my presentation. I will have to make this issue clear to all. As these people (in the opposition) attack Hun Sen on border issue, they in fact attack Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk also. What Hun Sen has done so far is just continuing what was left on land and sea border by Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk. Therefore, frankly, their utmost aim is to target Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk so that they could justify the coup they launched against Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk in 1970.
They even wrote songs and I will present some of them, for example “Goodbye Mom to Become Soldier,” to the National Assembly. They aim to get two birds with one arrow – the Royal Government and the throne. Who is actually on the throne? Isn’t it the son of the former Majesty? So we have to resolve all this in the National Assembly tomorrow. So everyone stays where s/he is so that we can spend this time not to rest but to study Cambodian history in relation to border issues.
I hope that the opposition (members of the National Assembly) will not leave the National Assembly session. According to their meeting on August 3, I heard they planned to leave the parliamentary session and as for today’s afternoon, I heard they will convene another meeting too. I hope you do not leave the session as what I am going to talk or say is not as cruel as how you insult me/us and compare me/us to traitors everywhere you go at all. You posed the question to me. Now I am preparing to give you answer. Why do you plan to walk out?
Let me tell you that this session will be broadcasting live. That you are walking out will be a shame. Let me tell you one trick. Last time, while leaving the National Assembly, you put a mask on your mouth to suggest that you do not have the right to express your opinion. As for this time I would suggest that you ban your eyes with a piece of cloth to mean that you do not want to see and put plugs in ears to mean that you do not want to hear. No matter what I will show maps from the time of Cochinchina and Annam and we will see where Cambodia is./.