1,100 Youth Volunteers in New Actions on Existing Policies
I have a great pleasure today to have a chance to meet with nephews/nieces as voluntary youths and students, who are taking part in the campaign to take new actions based on existing policy on land issue in response to the official order which came into force since June 8 along with public elaboration on June 14.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation and thanks for the 1,100 nephews/nieces who are students and intellectuals – 312 from the pagoda boy group, 216 from Federation of Cambodian Democratic Students and Intellectuals, 391 from the Royal Agricultural University of Chamka Daung, 83 from the Cambodian Institute of Technology, 12 from the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction – for their part in this mission.
It is to our joy that what I have declared on behalf of the Royal Government has been welcomed by people throughout the country. I know that people not only greet and welcome the statement but also make thousands of AV copy of my elaboration on 14 June for purpose of documenting, analyzing and keeping as tool to protect their cases. As far as I know, the CTN and the Angkor Beer company helped make those copies and are sold out well. I think since it is not Prom Manh’s joke story, may it be given out for free.
Seeing this development I think that officials should be careful when talking to our people. They should be cautious as, by watching and listening to those disks, inside and outside the country alike, thanks to modern telecommunication means, people will indeed make comparison between their actions and what has been said by the Prime Minister. It could be the case that some of our officials might have not listened to and/or taken the statement into serious consideration as policy and order for such implementation. I would urge that if they are not sure of what to do, they should replay the tape/disk, TVs as well, with emphasis made on specific comments on land issues so that everyone understands and does not misinterpret.
On CTN I learnt that some people have gone out, after hearing about (the Prime Minister’s new actions on) land issue, to plant their land’s border markers. Those pole plantings are not acceptable as they are not those planted with the measurements by the local authorities and/or related land survey departments. There could also be some who would do that in order to demand cash from our people. It seems, according to what I heard, this has happened in Kuah Kralor of Battambang province. Claiming land by oneself will not be acceptable.
I am so glad that for what we are doing, we have been doing in prompt manners – national and sub-national levels – to implement new actions based on existing policies. Each province has been especially active on this matter. As of the day that I returned from foreign mission, on June 12, our estimate figures were somewhere 150,000 families and some 70,000 hectares of land. However, as is reported by Senior Minister HE Im Chhun Lim of the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction (MLMUPC) to me at 5:30 of 24 June, the number of families to have their lands measured and their titles sorted out have reached over 300,000 and the size of land has come to over 1,200,000 hectares awaiting for us to take actions.
This is the figure on paper though. What we want to fulfill is not on paper only as before. That is why we term it new actions based on existing policies. They are not new issues for the Royal Government. It has been that some actions have been taken in certain degree in some places but not promptly everywhere. This time our action will be a forceful moment. Yesterday some provinces sent in some papers – including drafts of sub-decree and related decisions – for me to give my signature to. There are three papers from the province of Preah Vihear and four from Kompot that I call for immediate inspection meeting before I could give my signature to.
I would elaborate more shortly on a commission that has been set up yesterday in which a number of Deputy Prime Ministers plus the Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction are members and they will have to move on it as urgent matter. They will have to review the papers as signing on sub-decrees and decisions as such would require proper coordinates, legal formulation and even typographical errors being corrected prior to requesting for approval signature from the Prime Minister so that no negative consequences for state and/or people to deal with at the later date.
This is not a kind of work that is said but insufficient actions are taken as before. These new actions will be carried out constantly. We are determined to fulfill this mission to the complete end on three types of land – Forest Land Concession, Economic Land Concession and land that are illegally occupied. We also will take further step in social land concession as well. We will see that it be fulfilled completely even if we need to expend 1.2 million hectares of land. Doing this is not a problem because the land belongs to the people. What we are doing is to provide land titles to them so as to achieve stability on issues of land possession and occupation, social safety, effective land use, poverty reduction and economic growth.
Social aspect to be obtained from such policies and actions would contribute greatly for the betterment of the people’s livelihood. I have said it already that people could feel this point and already made right assessments. I invite you to wait and see more new houses and new cultivations after we provide our people with titles to their lands. While that is achieved, in that stage, we no longer have to give them rice but they would give us Ambok (flatten newly and greenly harvested rice) in return.
As they lack ownership titles, they build no solid homes for they are concerned and uncertain if they could go on living and using the land at all at some stage. It is aimed at resolving this issue that we will help them legalize their land occupations/possessions. In the first step they will be provided with Primary Land Titles, which before long, since they are now going to the print shop, will come out. The primary land titles will eventually be replaced by Final Land Titles.
A good thing for people is that their primary land titles can be used to deposit in banks in request for loans. I also confirm today that there will also be a title for social land concession so that the bank can recognize it too. But first we will have to sort this out. So far, people are given with social land concession agreements and they use the agreement to secure loans from banks. They will no longer use the agreement but their social land concession titles. We just add: “titles must be attached with the social land concession agreements, both of which have corresponding use value as ownership titles, until final land ownership titles are issued for social land concessionaires who have fulfilled required conditions for social land concession.” This means concessionaire can deposit the title to secure loan from banks. This should help people to develop fast and have vast economic effect on their own livelihood – each family or the whole society.
Some press has given unprofessional comments, and I think that should be brought up here, that “though the Prime Minister has stated, no one has taken action to measure land for the people.” Let me have your attention that measuring land that we are talking about is not some joke at all. We cannot just get a few families along and measure land for them as doing it this way would take a long time in waiting. The worse thing is people might have conflict among themselves. Land boundary is a serious issue. We cannot afford to get only a specified number of families to involve in measurement while others do not.
I would urge the press and people to understand about the system that we are putting in place for the measurement and provision of primary land title recognition. We could not employ any system that lacks procedures and/or does not correspond to the people’s need. All land belongs to the state. Whether land given out as concession or land people possessed illegally, we are in the process of making legal consecration, except those that people already have their ownership titles.
I learnt one story very truly from the former time. It was a conflict of land boundary between siblings. They went all the way to the court and they became poor altogether. My grandparents gave three pieces of land to my grandaunt, my uncle and my father, which was adjacent to land of some relatives. What they did was during the flood season, at around 4pm, you would see that they rowed the boat to take a bath. As we caught it without their knowledge, they pulled out the poles along the boundary and placed it inches into our side. We went to bath later and moved the poles some inches back. This could be one serious issue.
Let me clarify that in this mission these nephews/nieces are participating voluntarily. I am you commander in chief, HE Im Chhun Lim is like Chief of General Staff. So you are not soldiers under the command of HE Tia Banh, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense and HE Pol Saroen, the RCAF’s Chief of General Staff. You may have noticed that on the uniform you are carrying a sign of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction. MLMUPC will send you to different provinces and villages thereafter. The Governor of the province is the Head of state land management commission. So I suggest that all Governors must look after their (land management) soldiers.
I urge again that for what we are doing today we must guarantee that there are no retrograde consequences for our people at the later date. There are going to be some 168 provincial working groups and there could be few more subgroups for each working group. In each volunteer group there are 12 members in which one of them will be responsible together with a deputy. Let me clarify that I am not making use of state budget to financially support the youth volunteers. I am determined to feed them and make their missions work.
The land survey department will be responsible for their task. As far as our youth are concerned, once they are on the ground, I urge that they would do whatever they are asked to. I know that there are youths from two non-governmental organizations – the Association of Pagoda Boy Students/Intellectuals and the Cambodian Democratic Youth and Intellectual Association. There have been requests from some NGOs to get involved too but I think it is not yet time for them to do that. I said already that this problem can only be solved by the authority defined by law.
I advise some NGOs not to instate themselves as equal as those who have been elected by the people and set up by law. Though we recognize the role and function of NGOs and civil society, we urge them to be cautious of this. Though I do not have to mention them by name, some have come out with a statement like “some NGOs are potential and some are not.” What do they mean? We could understand. They wanted to talk about small versus big, poor versus rich organizations. Does this correspond to what you have been doing to actually demand for equal rights with the Government whom the people elected?
All NGOs are equal. There is no rich or poor NGOs as far as voting is concerned. They welcome my statement but they wish to monitor the implementation. I think it is not necessary and they can write a report according to their wish.
Please allow me to take this opportunity say something. We have called for correction twice already – one for the Cambodia Daily and one for Phnom Penh Post. I find the press respectful but for unprofessional and/or professionally incomprehensive and/or destructive intention press, I am of the opinion that they should publish corrections. If they do not make correction on papers, we would do it on TVs and Radios. The other day was the Cambodia Daily and today it is Cambodia Daily again. It was a hit on the head but a pat on the tail. We will from now on for once demand correction and also send the demand to all TVs and Radios at the same time.
In one article they wrote: “Land Concessions Signed After Hun Sen Ordered Moratorium.” I demand that Cambodia Daily and Phnom Penh Post run in full the Royal Government’s order 01 dated May 7, in which there exists four points and I would bring only two points to your attention: “Point 1 – Make a provisional halt to all economic land concessions. Point 4 – For all economic land concessions that the Royal Government approved before the order’s issuance will continue to implement according to legal principle and procedures in force.”
Let me advise the Phnom Penh Post and Cambodia Daily, including also those who claim to be lawyers and monitor land issue, to have a look from head to heel in order to conclude that it is a man or a woman. Poor sight analysis would show that one is the silliest and would not be respected. There have been serious implementation of the order and I never sign more concession at all. I wish they read the order at Point 4 in full before they cry foul about it.
I have advised on various occasions that for things to be properly verified, one has to look at it from beginning to end and not to look at one particular point alone (without understanding the whole) with relatively destructive intent. According to Point 4, the Prime Minister would have to sign transferring public state land to private state land, for example. This is just one among many procedures before it comes to approval notification. As I brought the approval notification to the public the other day that the concessionary company would have to collaborate with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to define the boundary and cut out lands relating to reserved forest and/or local community accordingly. These are what we call procedures. Does the Cambodia Daily or Phnom Penh Post know that? Or do they have bad intention?
You have your means, newspapers, but we have ours as well. My response today has to be broadcast in full. If you are to participate, you have to respect the truth. That said, I am sure they will complain that Hun Sen is angrily reproving. I cannot be nice as a wise man when it comes to bad intention. It is no threat. You may want to run more articles of the kind but with our reactions, trust on your (journalist) profession would decline for you neglected the whole truth.
I would be grateful and appreciating very much if the two newspapers were to issue in full the Royal Government order 01, thereby the two points I mentioned above could be brought to light before the readers. In order to maintain the value and trust of the press in Cambodia it is necessary to make one’s reporting professionally comprehensive.
As far as works to be fulfilled in this mission we have got specific schedules. This evening HE Im Chhun Lim will lead further meeting. What will serve as tool in implementing this campaign is the sub-decree 118, which clearly defines the provincial and district roles, and the circular 02 concerning illegal occupation of state land. Also important mechanism is the sub-decree 88 issued in December 2000 on the establishment of the land policy council. As I have mentioned earlier about the formation of the commission to inspect new actions based on existing policies on issues of land, HE Im Chhun Lim is the chairman, HE Uk Rabun, HE Prak Sokhon, HE Chhan Saphan, HE Rath Sarin, HE Ith Nody, HE Chheng Kimsun, HE Chay Samith and HE Sar Sovan are members.
The work of this commission is to inspect and give opinion on decision to be made to the head of the Royal Government on proposed sections of forest land concession, economic land concession and state land to be cut out and given to the people for their legal ownership. In order to give those lands to the people we have got to measure and transfer them from public state land to private state land. Only this is fulfilled could ownership titles proceed. As for economic land concession, if transference has already been made, there is no need to issue further sub-decrees but an approval notification. The commission will have to inspect this work as urgent issue and I would need no more than 48 hours to approve.
It is important, for example, that the proposed cutting of sizes of lands from specified places would come with coordinates that are matching with those in maps at the central level. We may either communicate though VDO conference to address measurement differences or get to the place together. It would be easier as I would give my approval on one side and a signature to transfer it from public to private state land on another. Since we also have the Secretary of State of the Council of Ministers (in the commission), I think approval notification (Sech Kdei Jun Damnoeng) could also be prepared and ready to be issued once I give my approval.
The mechanism at the ministry level has sent working staff to the provinces and those at the provincial levels already start working with provincial offices of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, Environment, Forest Administration. From the central level we also have the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Council of Ministers because we have matters concerning authorities in charge of state property and national budget issues, which would be needed to implement actions like buying some equipments to be used for many more years.
We may as well divert forces from other fronts to serve this campaign so as to finish once and for all the land issue. As of now the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction has gathered some over 2,000 workers already and people’s participation in form of physical and mental efforts is very important. Proposal for decision or sub-decree on land ownership titles in this campaign must be addressed directly to the head of the Royal Government. The Cabinet (of the Prime Minister) or the Council of Ministers must process the proposal immediately to the commission, where the proposal will be inspected before submitting for approval.
We have modern equipments to facilitate the communication such as VDO conference and email. On top of these, the Metfone company has offered some 400 pieces of four digit phone to be used free of charge. I have given 350 pieces to the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction and 50 to students. Again the provincial level (commission) must propose directly to the Prime Minister and not to the Minister. However the Ministers concerned will have to inspect everything. The central level will give all inspections and we have here HE Chay Samith from Environment and HE Ith Nody from Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and one from Forestry Administration.
Let me stress that members have not got rights to veto. For instance, once the approval notification is out, concerned parties have to implement according to the instruction. It was because actions in negligence of what was instructed in the notification that brought us problems. As members no one could object on giving but only inspecting and approving if the coordinates given are correct or not. In some cases we have cut the land out already but once we come to solve the problem with people’s participation, the size of cut-out land could be bigger than originally secured by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
In this case of economic land concession, this action would address to the wish of both companies and people’s communities as they would know where their borders meet. It is more so as people would also use their land titles to secure loans from banks too. It is going to be win-win situation for all, the investors and the people’s communities win. While attracting foreign investments, it is important to make sure that they all are abiding by the Cambodian judicial system. We are now solving the tiger stripe situation (land intertwined between state and community) plus 10% reservation for future population growth.
Taking this opportunity I would advise all to give their opinions on how things are being carried out. As I mentioned several times in this meeting that we must not leave our people to be in conflict because of unclear land boundary after we issued them the titles at all. I am calling the people to have understanding to each other and not to infringe upon one another.
According to the work schedule, as is presented by HE Im Chhun Lim, yesterday June 25, there was a meeting with all provincial level LMUPC and today June 26, a meeting and listening to instruction of Prime Minister. On June 27 and 28, lecturers will be dispatched to northeast, northwest and southeast and June 28, youth volunteers will head to action in the field.
As far as the provision of Final Land Titles is concerned, I suggest to the people not to sell and transfer possession (in the mean time) as according to what we are planning to do selling or transferring would lead to issue of unclear ownership again. For example, when starting with issuance of Primary Land Titles, a plot of land is registered under A, so after processing the paper, the Final Land Titles will also be under A. So, while waiting for the issuance of final title, I urge our people not to sell or transfer their land yet. This should help.
According to plan, the primary land titles will be issued within three to four weeks after the first day of field work and the measurement has reached to three hundred registrars. The final land titles will take up to six months at the longest. What important in speeding this work is that people brace for no conflicts but sorting out differences among themselves so that this job of providing everyone with land title can be fulfilled speedily.
I have learnt about one fact that I do not forbid but am happy for it. As I arrived to this meeting, the families reported for the need of land measurement were only 150,000 but now it comes to 300,000 already. I do not obstruct them. People know better than us what they are doing. According to land law, we could only provide each family with five hectares. With now ten hectares in his/her holding, we would have to issue title of five hectares for him/her and another five as small-scale economic land concession. S/he would not accept this small piece of economic land concession. They would split the family into two and each has a holding of five hectares already.
What we have to be clear is that self-occupation and possession of land, take for instance, what happened recently in Kompot and Kep cannot be recognized and/or provided with land titles. We call on people to participate and collaborate while not encroaching upon more new land or it would create more obstacles in resolving the problem and it would take much more time to process the titles while there are anarchic actions in the area. If ever anyone demands money for their works or service, please arrest him/her, the officials also included.
Please be sure that the work to issue people land titles this time is for free and I wish our people to know that. Our people only spend their time to help measure the land they possess. I have read a report by a newspaper that there has been an organization that acts as a mastermind in measuring land for people. They should be arrested for what they are doing as the institution with rights and privileges to do so is here.
I take this opportune moment to appeal to those with arrest warrants for what they did in the village of Kompong Damrai to come out and confess. I already affirm that the Royal Government would relieve them of their wrongdoings by grading them up from the accused to the witness. There has been one coming out already among the warranted five. Among the seven people who came to Phnom Penh to get the order of the mastermind in Phnom Penh, three came out already. We are waiting for four more. We would follow them wherever they may be. As for the mastermind, we know what he has done and he dare not enter the country now.
We must resolve this issue once and for all as some NGOs accuse the Royal Government of chasing people out of the village. Nothing of that sort was done. In the recent commune councilor elections, the Cambodian People’s Party won all five seats in the commune too. We did not touch people’s land. It was anarchic group led by someone in Phnom Penh who set up the so called Association of Democrats did all this. They have the intention to create a state within the state. They dissolved villages and created seven new ones. They charged people for piece of land they promised. This is not acceptable at all.
The Royal Government can shift your case to that of witness, those who come out, as you are also cheated. Now this mastermind is with Suon Ratha, whom we are seeking arrest too. This man intended to downfall the Royal Government by force and appeared on the Thai yellow shirt TV last year. The mastermind dare not enter the country now. Trial in absentia can go ahead and demand for extradition will be carried out.
Your action of occupying land by yourself is wrong. That what you did is unacceptable. What happened in Kbal Chhay of Sihanouk province too is unacceptable. I told Sbaong Sarat, governor of Sihanouk province to find them a plot of land. There is no country on earth that allows anyone to do that. Try the US, if you occupy the park, you would certainly be handcuffed, not in front like in Cambodia but from the back. Once we get some one arrested, immediately they cry out that we violate human rights. So what do you call it when you dissolve the village administration and block the road?
Who built those homes in Kompong Damrei? They all were going from other places. Have they not chased out the locals? What is a village? Could you define? Is it a village just yet it comes together in one or two days? Would the case of Kompong Damrei be defined as a village? It is ridiculous that they say the Royal Government chased people out of the village. How could they set up NGOs if they do not know all this? I am afraid what they did may be involved in state within the state matter.
I re-appeal to the people that anyone – government official, soldier, police officer, etc. assures you that s/he could get you land here and there on condition you pay her/him this amount or that amount of money, let us know immediately and we will arrest him/her. We arrest all crooked people no matter from where they could be, including those wearing the sign of the Cambodian People’s Party. For the latter they would be sued by the Cambodian People’s Party and by the Royal Government as well.
I have some recommendations and advice for the youth volunteers with a mission this time. I have one prohibition for you all to remember no matter where you are in this mission. What is it? I advise you not to ask or to seek to find out from anyone you are serving what party they belong to or vote for. The work that you are doing in the name of the Royal Government is to give out land to people of Cambodia not to political party. Having come to this let me have the attention of one organization who claims that it has concern about political discrimination.
I can conclude that this organization or person knows Hun Sen too little. It is you who discriminate when you look at the Royal Government as a group of people different from you. But you are just a bunch of people who nominate yourselves. We are the ones that people elected with full rights to represent the country in and outside. So what important here is to help people. I have a slogan for you – “staying with the people makes them like you, and leaving the people makes them think of you.”
I would urge you not to do it differently like they said – “staying with the people makes them dislike you, and leaving makes them forget you.” There was also this saying that “as those coming from the south will take coconut, those from the north will take chicken.” People may serve you with their coconuts. While thanking them for their sympathy, you may as well have to give pay for it. This is the Cambodian psychology and you would gain by saying “thank you.” You can thank them in words but also in cash for what they offer you. Do not enjoy their service for free. You may tell them what you give them is not for the coconut they offer you but a reciprocation so that they can use for things in daily life.
(It should be noticed that) those who promised to give petty cash to elderly people are now facing problem when the latter are after them to demand their promised money. It seems s/he now is telling people to wait till s/he becomes Prime Minister for her/his promise to be fulfilled. It is ridiculous that in the recent communal councilor elections they campaigned to give 40,000 Riels (to elderly people as petty cash money) if they get elected. Well, we do not promise but we are doing service to help them. Once you are there, if anyone people is sick, and if you happen to have medicine for her/his illness, you may want to give it out to her/him.
There is one more thing for you to do. I am advising you to learn from the people while fulfilling this mission. Some of you come from the University of Agriculture at Chamka Daung and may still remember one of my recommendations there that students should some up with thesis on development in these areas. Now it is a great chance to do your study right in the field. While learning from them, you can also share your ideas with them. For example, you may want to bring coconut saplings and plant them in everyone’s home as a memory. I think it would be a great thing if you can do it. In three or four years you can go back and find out the difference and rate of development in the area. That is not a difficult task at all.
As far as necessary utensils and tools for personal need, I am sure your aunt, the President of the Cambodian Red Cross, has them all under control. You will have enough not to bother people in the village, though I am sure villagers would not allow you to set up tents. I have high responsibility to your parents and supervisors. You have here HE Im Chhun Lim as chief of general staff and (my son) Hun Manit will be in charge of logistics. I may bring it for your knowledge that you all will eat collectively and I sponsor you with 30,000 Riel per diem, which would be 900,000 Riels per month. Before end of the month, the logistic people will come to pay you on the spot. I may have to spend like 33 million Riels per day or 990 million Riels per month when all of the mission people are out in the fields.
Let me warn against some for making a fuss about getting my children to do the job. I wonder here why I cannot give my children who have finished their post graduate studies some jobs to do. Why should I give them chance to get educated then? Some even talk about the Bayon TV that is managed by my daughter. So what? Do they have a share there? All my sons are soldiers. The US also helps train them. Hun Manet studied at West Point Academy and the other one went to the National Defense University of the United States of America. I did not send them there. The US selected them. But why did they not say a word when the husband and wife are members of the National Assembly? And so is his second wife.
As for the case of accidental death of a young girl at Kompong Damrei I solemnly expressed my condolence and I made the point already that it was caused by the Association of Democrats. So the person to be placed in responsible for this is the mastermind. You have no rights to represent the people. If you want the rights, you get to make it your win in the 28 July 2013 elections. As of now it is the coalition government of the Cambodian People’s Party and Funcinpec. Having come to this, I would say that in some way I am happy too that Funcinpec could not reconcile with each other and I have nothing to bother anymore.
There was a discussion that they want to make it (Funcinpec) like other opposition parties that scold the Royal Government, at least 50% like them if not 100%. I told to (HE Nhek Bun) Chhay, Deputy Prime Minister that judging from what I have learnt, as soon as that party with that state of mind joins with Funcinpec in the coalition government, I would chase (Nhek Bun Chhay’s) Funcinpec out of the coalition. I would not allow those parties to be part of and scold the Royal Government. They come to me for help. I did help. When they lost the elections, they blamed me for having created another political party to run in opposition and drew the votes from Funcinpec and the Royal Government did not react when the opposition party scolded the Royal Government.
That faction always threatens us that it would become an opposition. They may be one now and does not have to wait any longer. On June 16, there was a letter written to me and upon my return from abroad I instructed: “I have seen it. No need to respond.” With that up in their sleeves we could not afford to risk giving the sword handle to someone who might thrust through unpredictably anytime. I have seen the two splashing at each other. Now I am standing in protection of Nhek Bun Chhay as I asked him to make his decision.
The Cambodian People’s Party has no necessity to include you into national force because of such intention of yours. Funcinpec in the coalition government is already a national force and that national force is in the coalition with this national force (CPP) already. I am sorry that we could not play together. I will go on with Nhek Bun Chhay and there is no need to include anyone else./.