18 December 2012
During the visit to the construction site of the crematorium at the Crematorium area adjacent to the Royal Palace, talking to the construction workers and architects, Samdech Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia, singles out the importance of doing the job safely and properly since this will culminate in respect Cambodians can pay for their beloved King-Father.
Dear nieces, nephews and everyone who are involved in the construction of the crematorium, I consider your works as significant contributions to say goodbye to the King-Father, for whom our people owe the greatest gratitude. I hope everyone who has been working here will make steadfast effort in meeting the schedule of constructing the crematorium. While doing the job, I urge you all to pay attention to safety measures as required by the construction regulation such as putting on safety helmets, gloves, etc.
I would take this opportune moment to express my sincere thanks to all the efforts and contributions, especially to HE Kong Sam Ol, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Royal Palace, and other leaders, the Phnom Penh Municipality included, so that we all can meet the schedule of construction. The construction of the crematorium will have to be ready at least fifteen days before February 1, when we will escort and place the late King-Father’s body in the crematorium. It is in this circumstance I hope everyone understands that it is required to work at night sometimes. We all see this as one of the sacrifices that we are committed to fulfill to repay for the great gratitude of the King-Father.
Our King-Father used to stay in the forest, worked through various difficulties in order to demand independence for generations of Cambodians. It is that much we can do as part of national efforts to celebrate funeral ceremony for the late King-Father.
I also would like to take this opportunity to make clarification to the Cambodian public with regard a scandalous exaggeration. It was to my great surprise when I saw an article in the Cambodia Daily about the cost of construction of the crematorium, which they said to be five million USD. HE Nhek Bun Chhay, Deputy Prime Minister, already clarified but there was no exact figure provided yet. Undeniably, raising this issue is an insult to the late King-Father, HM the King and Samdech Me (Queen Mother), the royal families and the Royal Government. The idea was to blame the above for wasting up to five million USD on the crematorium.
I would make it clear to everyone in the whole country that the Royal Government has every obligation to make the funeral ceremony a serious affair. We cannot do a lousy job. We will need not less than three months. For previous funeral ritual, like the one for the late HM King Suramarith, it took Cambodians five months to finish the job. In the case of Samdech Preah Borom Ratanak Kaod, the cremation will take place before end of the Year of Dragon on both Cambodian and Chinese calendar. This has called us in a rather short time.
Despite the fact that we have come up with architectural design, it is still a difficult job to find professional builders at short notice. As Permanent Deputy Head of the Committee in Charge of the Funeral Ceremony, together with Samdech Kong Sam Ol and other members, I have the duty to fulfill this job with high responsibility.
Look, you may want to make an estimate of the construction here. Would it cost five million USD? Only people who used to embezzle state fund come up with such estimate. HRH Sisovath Thomico has also made a statement on that (… I have been told that will cost about $5 million just for the building …, Page 17, Cambodia Daily, December 17). However, I would affirm to you who work here and every Cambodian that the construction of this magnitude, which some has guessed to cost five million USD, is in fact bearing a price tag of 1.2 million USD or less.
One may ask why there was no bidding procedure held for this project. If we did that, the construction site would not have started yet since the public procurement procedures would require advertisement on TV, Radio and in newspapers, which would need no less than two months’ time. Now we are begging the construction company, which they complained it owned by HE Kong Sam Ol’s daughter, to take up the job and move swiftly.
By involving in the construction itself, you all may observe that this work is more complicated than building other structures. We have to make sure that the body of Preah Borom Ratanak Kaod could rise to the upper deck. It is not a simple matter. Who would be responsioble when any peculiar thing happens? I have made an explanation once there was a comparison between the way the Chinese army handled the coffin of Preah Borom Ratanak Kaod and that of the Cambodia army. Our army did not practice carrying the coffin off the plane to the vehicle. In China, the Chinese soldiers carried a coffin without its cover. While in Cambodia, the cover was on together and it is 60 Kg more.
I think that their comment is of nasty nature, Prince Thomico included. If they do not know or understand, they should write a letter to the Royal Government to ask how much it (the crematorium) would cost. They should not make irresponsible comments with the press. Today, I would affirm to the Cambodian people in the whole country that the cost of the construction of the crematorium would be below 1.2 million USD. We circumvent public procurement procedures because we do not have sufficient time for that.
It is in this reason that I would seek the Buddhist monks and people’s understanding on this matter. In fact, even if the cost would be more, the Royal Government would still have to cover for it. However, it is not five million USD (as was eaggerated). As far as security matter is concerned, Deputy Prime Minister HE Sar Kheng has requested for the setting up of fencing around, which would incur another cost. The fence will be for long-term use.
I would suggest to Prince Thomico that if he could not understand, he could write to Minister of the Royal Palace, Kong Sam Ol, to me as the Prime Minister or to MInister of Economy and Fincance, HE Keat Chhon, whom I entrust with reimbursing the financial support for the whole funeral event. The incurring cost would not be a burden to the budget of the Royal Palace but to the Royal Government totally. There is nothing wrong about writing (the letter) to find out. The other day, he wrote me a letter to ask for my forgiveness after he gave an interview. I also wrote on his letter and sent back. I sincerely hope that no one would find pretext concerning the demise of the Heroric King Father to attack the Royal Government.
Once again, I would like to express my deep thanks to all leaders involved in the work and let’s consider it our merit for spending our efforts to show our condolences and farewell to Preah Borom Ratanak Kaod. We all – you, me as Prime Minister and other Cambodian leaders, have this obligation to make this final stage of funeral in reciprocation to the kind heart that Preah Borom Ratanak Kaod had always bestowed upon everyone, and in honor of our nation. The body of Preah Borom Ratanak Kaod will be removed from the Royal Palace (to the crematorium site) on February 1 and the final ritual will be on February 4./.