… Today my wife and I have a great pleasure for having a chance to meet our people here again in Koh Thom district after our presence in 1996, 2000 and 2001 to help our people cope with the flood situation. Today is also a wonderful day as we all celebrated the International Women’s Day of March-8… HE Acting Governor Khim Bo of Kandal province, and Mr. Kong Ieng of the military engineering team of the Ministry of National Defense, have already mentioned in brief about what we have for this celebration. May I devote these achievements first of all in the name of women in the Kingdom of Cambodia.
… I wish to offer my appreciation to the people and the authorities in Saang and Koh Thom for their efforts in coping with the consecutive floodings in 2000 and 2001 that caused disastrous situation similar to other flood affected areas. I also would give my appreciation to HE Heng Taikry, my advisor, and his team, for the efforts responding to the needs of the people in the area. We have about 8000 ha of rice that needs water here. HE Minister Lim Keanhor (of Water Resources and Meteorology) has brought in a number of water pumps, and so did HE Heng Taikry and HE Chao Tol from my bodyguard unit, to help rescue the most part of the drought-affected already. HE Borasi (a Senator) is providing similar assistance and efforts in Saang district. I wish to give additional orders to the Ministry of Water Resources, the Ministry of Agriculture as well as various other local authorities to get ready for the final intervention in providing water to save our people’s dry-season rice as we foresee not much rain to come.
… Difficulties met by our people are always haunting me. That is why I always have my heart and soul with the village life. No one could claim to be well aware of poverty and hardship than the poor. It is in this reason I would ask our people in Saang and Koh Thom for an apology because I have kept you all waiting for so long (for solution to your problems.) In fact we have plans (for the assistance) already but as we were to step in, the whole country encountered problems of flooding like the one in 2000 that is bigger than any flood in 70 years. It required enormous amount of resources – money and efforts – to save our people from poverty and famine. We had to provide our people with seed and to rebuild a number of major infrastructures.
… While we thought that we could do so in 2001, we had two major tasks to implement. Firstly, we had to deal with an unexpected flooding. Secondly we had to prepare for the organization of a communal election, for which the Royal Government contributed a sum of Riel 46 billion. If we were to use that amount of money to build infrastructure, we could have built by thrice the length of road (between Takhmao and Koh Thom.) But we have an obligation to pay (for the election preparation) to put an end to the situation of handpicking commune chiefs and deputies. It is a resolute determination to bring about real change in a democratic, human-right respected and development environment.
… Talking about change, let not include the changes ignited by the Khmer Rouge Pol Pot, in 23 years there have been so many major and realistic changes that had been done. Firstly, we have changed our regime from the genocide to rebirth. The January-7 brought about substantial change that is seen to be the survival of the Cambodian people.
… Secondly, we have moved our country out of a situation of a mixture of both peace and war to a complete and lasting peace. This is a change that never exists in the history of Cambodia. Before we build schools, hospitals, roads and bridges with concern that they may be destroyed by war. But now with peace in hand we have no concern as such.
… Thirdly, ownership that was stripped off by the Pol Pot Khmer Rouge has returned and our people are entitled to own their properties.
… Fourthly, we have achieved democracy especially through the February-3 communal election. Before commune leaders were hand picked by the Ministry of Interior, but they no longer do so as these people are elected by the people.
… Fifthly, the fishing boundary that was defined in 1917 by the French has been resized in 2000 to more than half a million hecta smaller (than the prievious size) leaving the resized part for the use and benefit of our people. Previous contributions levied on a number of fishing tackles are canceled.
… There are various other changes aside from what I have mentioned above. We now have pagodas, renovated roads, bridges, etc. In fact what is irreversible could be listed as:
- The regime of monarchy according to law and the multi-party democratic system. Some people expressed their concerns that the monarchy would be ended at some point in time. Let me clarify that even the National Assembly has got no right to amend the constitution on stipulations concerning the monarchy according to law and the motto of nation, region and king. So religion also is to stay and subject to no changes, except probably when there would be a military coup… But the one with ability to launch that kind of coup has not got born yet. I also would not stand idle to let these people to have such a chance. Monarchy belongs to no particular political party but to our nation as a whole. Whoever tries to reverse this is none other than a military coup maker.
- The fishing lots that have been trimmed out and left for our people personal use and benefit would not be reversed. I would try to maintain this but would not be able to do so if I am voted out. If I were to be voted in I would initiate more changes.
- The farmland tax would continue to be free as long as I am in power. I have negotiated this matter with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank that the Cambodian farmers endure abundance of hardships. If they were to pay tax on their farmland, they would have further difficulty. Giving them farmland-tax free is like investing in them a sum of money to alleviate their poverty. Since I have become Prime Minister I never impose tax on farmland and would do so for the next ten years. But if some one else were to be voted for then it is s/he who would decide on this matter.
… As long as the tax-free policy on farmland is concerned, it should be retained at least for the rest of my current term of government. This would apply even for the next two terms, I should say, before tax collection on this matter happens.
… Our people in Saang and Koh Thom could foresee now that we are going to build and renovate more bridges. As we have bridges built and renovated today, what about roads? As far as the road 21 is concerned, the project anticipates the ADB financing of US$ 2.17 million divided into two steps. The first part that costs US$ 1.2 million has gone through bidding already. In ten days the bidding would be opened and the company that wins would start the project in this March. The second part would go into bidding for a length, which makes the project one and two together a total length of 32 kilometers. The rest 27 kilometers would be built with money from the Government coffer. This part should start from Koh Thom end and approach towards the part to be built by the ADB funded project. The Government –funded part, using profit made by the Sihanoukville seaport, has to maintain a quality that is no different from the ADB funded one. Today we launch the groundbreaking for both the bridges and the road 21.
… May all institutions involved in the financing and construction of the road to move fast as we would have no time left to lose and could not stand to have the middle part of the road left unattended. If the financing by ADB were to be late, I would order the involved authorities and institutions to move on with the construction till they finish it completely. We would allocate the loan approved by ADB to other places. Like the road length of 91 kilometers between Phnom Penh and Kompong Thom, we have it built by the engineering team as we would have no more time to wait. What I have mentioned earlier, however, does not mean that Cambodia does not need IMF but rather urge the latter to move faster in processing the project. I would urge HE Minister Khi Tainlim to work with the IMF to smoothen the legal procedure.
… Let me thank VI organization and AAR-Japan for the donation of 16 wheeled chairs to the disabled persons here. In response to the request made our teachers and students here, I am offering to build three school buildings with nine classrooms. Solar energized vacuum lighting would be mounted for Prek Ambel Bridge. Two thousand US dollars goes to Wat Doem Po for the subscription of a set of classical symphony instrument. I approved the construction of a dirt road in Prek Sbov, Sampoev Poun commune, Koh Thom district of a length of 5,400 meters. A set of electrical appliances would also go to Wat Choeu Khmao according to the proposal. In contribution to the need for the construction of a mosque Mat Chik, I wish to contribute 20 million Riels.etc.