… Today I have a great pleasure to return once again to Treang district after my visit to Prey Phaee a few months ago to preside over the inauguration of some achievements. I wish to express my sincere respect and gratitude to the venerable head monk and people around Wat Cheng (Buddhist Pagoda Cheng) for offering me, and my colleagues, a chance to take part in the cornerstone-laying ceremony of this Buddhist temple, the construction of which has just been completed. I think that it is a splendid opportunity for our people to gather together here. It reminded me of a souvenir years ago that I was accompanied by HE General Pol Saroeun from Angkor Borei district back to Takeo town. Along the way we had a break in the Treang district headquarter before we went over to pay respects to the Chief Monk Phat Yuos in Phnom Khleng Pagoda. It was over ten years already. I was here in Takeo to learn from HE Pol Saroeun about land reform, and transferring of land from growing floating rice to dry-season rice.
… Presently, Cambodia is entirely at peace or in a period of implementing peace culture. Achievements that we have scored and are going to score would not be subjected to any destruction. As HE Governor Kep Chutema mentioned in his report that Wat Cheng is 182 years old. This length of time signifies so many historical incidents for Cambodia. We could specify them in different periods – the period under the colony, the post-independence and construction period with threats posed by neighboring countries, the period of being at war entirely, the period of the genocide followed by a mix of war and peace, and now the entire peace period. I have gone through a number of these last major periods. I was only one-year old during the colonial period. I was born in 1952 and the independence was obtained in 1953. I have been living and actively involved in the specified periods between 1970 and 1975, and 1975 and 1979, and 1979 up to the present. What makes us all happy is that our nation attains entire peace and moves on with construction without being afraid of the war to recur or to destroy what we have achieved in the cause of construction.
… I have many good memories from Takeo, which up to now has had four Governors already. The first Governor was HE General Pol Saroeun, following by HE Khim Bo, HE Su Phirin, and presently HE Kep Chutema. The four are performing very well in their positions and duties. I may say here also that in (my) cabinet, about one third of the Ministers are from Takeo province. Take for example HE Senior Minister Sok An, Ministers So Khun, Chan Sarun, Mok Mareth, Chhay Than and various secretaries of state. As for Kompong Cham, we also have a number of outstanding people like In Tam, Hang Thun Hak, etc. I also am from Kompong Cham. In fact Cambodia has had three Prime Ministers so far that are from Kompong Cham. Former Prime Minister In Tam, Hang Thun Hak, and I myself who is from the younger generation from Kompong Cham. Besides, there are also many members of parliament from Takeo as well.
… May I convey my appreciation to venerable monks, Buddhist parishioners, and generous beings for their efforts placed in building the Buddhist temple of Wat Cheng from scratch after the destruction conducted by the Polpotists. But on January 7, 1979, the second birthday of the Cambodian people as a whole, Wat Cheng survives. Some people may not recognize the victory on January 7 in words, but could not ignore it in their hearts. They may accept from within that without January 7, they would have been killed. But for political reason they refrain from accepting it in words. They should not be ashamed for accepting this fact at all. Let me reiterate that January 7 is not a monopoly achievement of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP,) and CPP never in any case declares its monopoly ownership this historical event. It is a common achievement of those who hate the Khmer Rouge.
… As we have liberated the country, we were totally empty handed. The Polpotists dumped the Buddhist temples with fertilizer, broke the concrete and removed steel for use in other purpose. They called all this their ‘Great Leap Forward.’ As the truth has illustrated itself, one could eliminate Buddhism only on the surface but never did with the belief that lies deep in the hearts of our people.
… I always compare our speed of development to the frog leap, as it is slow but always objective. One leap here we built a Dhamma Assembly (Dhamma Saphea), one leap we have a school building with nine classrooms, a Buddhist primary school. This temple that was initiated and started construction in 1997 is now being completed with the cost of about Riels 300 million. It indicates a true spirit of sharing (of resources) which is a tradition maintained by our people. As I am very pleased with these achievements I wish to take this opportunity to convey my appreciation to the provincial authority for their efforts made in the past. Takeo has in fact been affected by flood in 2000 and in 2001 by both flood and drought. Up to now, however, Takeo has produced a surplus of 140,000 tons of paddy rice. According to our estimation in December last year (2001), the whole country would have left in stock only more than 100,000 tons of rice. But as of now we have in stock already half a million tons.
… It is usual that some families produce more, some produce less. While some places scored high yield, some scored less. That’s why we have some places recorded as food insecure. In free market economy, we cannot forcibly confiscate from surplus areas to supply to the deficit areas for free at all. There need to have marketing. We have mechanisms of the state, the Cambodian Red Cross (CRC), and other relief efforts to share and channel relief assistance to those deficit places. As far as Takeo is concerned, when I left Phnom Penh on my way here, I have noticed dry-season rice all over the place. Some is ripe, being harvested, being grained, and/or being transplanted as water recedes. I wish to reiterate that harvesting rice under water is still better than having none to harvest. Taking this opportunity I wish to appeal to our people to take good care of the dry-season rice. Takeo is the most successful example of converting floating-rice land to dry-season rice land and the use of high-yield seed.
… I also would like to take this opportunity to express my pleasure and appreciation to the efforts made by the provincial authority for the conduct of the communal election. There is one commune to revote today in Banteay Meanchey province. At present our people are enjoying a pleasant environment as the communal election has gone in peace, and the periods before, during, and after the election prove to be peaceful. We will continue to have peace. Every Commune Council is composed of three representatives of three political parties. They should learn to work with each other. As long as they do so, they would be able to develop their communes. And our people will judge for whom they will vote in the next election.
… According to a report there have been four political parties competing in the election. But only three parties got elected. CPP got the most seats – 522. No matter how many seats one’s party got, I wish that the elected members of the commune council work collaboratively to prove that democracy works in Cambodia. No matter what political party one is from, one has to put aside the party’s interest, but pay heed to the people’s interest – which should be seen in building Buddhist pagodas, schools, irrigation, water canals, etc.
… May I inform HE Chan Tong Iv, Secretary of State for Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery and HE Governor Kep Chutema that I have approved already the request for a repair and lighting of Angkor Borei Bridge. Any bridges built from now on at the length of no less than 80 meters would be lighted by the solar energy. I also approved the request for a five-classroom school building in the Primary School of Wat Cheng and HE Min Khin would be placed in charge of the construction with a donation of US 18,000 dollars. I also approved the request for two roads – a 10 km one from the National Road 2 to Wat Cheng, and a seven-kilometer road from the junior secondary school of Prek Tit to Kbal Ko station. Also approved is the request for building Doem Po dyke in Thlok commune at the length of 726 meters for conserving water for use to cultivate rainy and flood recession rice of 858 ha. On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia I am glad to accept the hand-over from the venerable chief monk of a Deva statue found in the digging of a water pond on 16 February. May I advise HE Governor to deliver the statue to the Archeological Museum for conservation, protection and study.