Sunday, December 27, 2009

Keynote Address at Ground Breaking Ceremony of the Construction of Fertilizer Factory - "Five Star International Fertilizer Cambodia Co., Ltd"

Kiensvay District, Kandal Province, 24th December 2009

Respectful Venerable Monks,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished National and International Guests,

Dear Compatriots,

Today, it is my great pleasure to attend the ground breaking ceremony of fertilizer factory which is invested and constructed by The Five Star International Fertilizer Cambodia in Samrongthom commune, Kiensvay district, Kandal province at the moment. This new achievement will contribute to development and improve livelihood of our people in this area and transform this area into production base in the future for manufacturing goods to response to the needs of our people domestically and for export. People of this area and I are proud of the achievement we have made, because this outcome will generate many opportunities including employment generation and development of physical infrastructure at locality.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to convey my congratulation and warm welcome to the Five Star Group International from Vietnam for deciding to invest in Cambodia at the time Cambodia is in need for promoting investment. Indeed, international investors will understand business situation and favorable investment climate in Cambodia through successful execution of this new investment project. On behalf of the Royal Government, I would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm that the government steadfastly welcomes and encourages investment projects to Cambodia, and put further effort to bolster and expand economic cooperation, liberalize industrial development as well as to improve investment climate which is credible to investors and businessmen. I would like to highly appreciate all investors who invest in Cambodia despite the world being affected by the global economic and financial crisis.

At the same time, the Royal Government has been promoting role of private sector which is considered to “growth locomotive” for development, which is very important sector of poverty reduction policy of the government by providing opportunities and employment creation for people. In this connection, the government‘s policy to attract both domestic and international private investors is a vital task at the moment.

The establishment of the fertilizer factory apparently reflects the attention of the Royal Government, who laid out national development strategy and made the best use of domestic resource to strengthen and expand Cambodia’s competitiveness amidst the current of globalization to ensure sustainable development. This also enhances cooperation with the Social Republic of Vietnam, who always supports to strengthen and expand economic and trade link between the two countries.

In this regard, investment and commencement of construction of this fertilizer factory are outcome of achievements and projects, resulting from good economic cooperation and good relationship between the two countries of Cambodia and Vietnam, which allow favorable business environment for private sector of both countries to come, jointly make investment and create business. I strongly believe that economic and trade relationship will bring huge benefit to people of the two countries such as people-to-people relationship in traffic and trade in goods, increase ability to maximize benefit of comparative advantage of each country from trade as H.E Suy Sem just highlighted.

This opportunity cannot be separated from the implementation of the “win-win” policy which rooted out both political and military organization of the Pol Pot Regime. Through this, we all have enjoyed peace and stability, pre-requisites for socio-economic development and improved living standard has been seen today. Moreover, the Royal Government will remain firmly committed to moving Cambodia forward to fulfill the needs of its people.

By implementing this right vision, the Royal Government has received tremendous support from people across the country reflected by the 2008 general election. Starting from this support, the Royal Government has realized some significant achievements to move Cambodia forward. In particular, the Royal Government has been working hard for the development of all kinds of infrastructure, including human resource development that, in turn, will accelerate economic growth and strengthen competitiveness of Cambodia to enable it to integrate effectively, on equal basis and status, into the regional and global framework.

The construction of this large-scale fertilizer factory is another specific indication of new achievements of the Royal Government of the fourth legislature of the National Assembly. This also echoes the rightness and success of the Royal Government in undertaking the Rectangular Strategy-Phase II introduced. One of the strategic rectangles gives specific importance to the development of private sector which is a key to encourage accommodative business environment as well as the development of private enterprises, aiming at diversifying economic foundation and industry sector and providing employment opportunity to people living in this area to earn more income and reduce poverty incidence. Once their incomes have been improved, we can reduce the rate of urbanization. Moreover, this area will absorb people from surrounding and neighboring areas, therefore we can transform this place into a new developed area. Along with this, although we are supporting and pushing hard for domestic production, we do not close our door to imports. This openness aims at strengthening the capacity and quality of domestic production since their viability will depend on the ability to compete with foreign products.

This factory will become the first large-scale fertilizer factory in Cambodia and this is a very joyful piece of news for Cambodian farmers since they used to rely entirely on imports. In this sense, farmers will benefit from the factory. According to the reported figure, the factory can produce 350,000 tons per year during the first stage of its operation. This figure will be bumped to 500,000 tons in its second stage to serve the demand of domestic farmers and foreign markets. This factory will indeed be a significant contribution to import substitution for farmers, create more choices of fertilizer and increase market competition so that farmers will benefit from better products and competitive price.

Along with the economic and trade benefits, the factory will be an important source of employment and provide indirect opportunity to many people who will earn income from the factory-related jobs including: wholesale and retail businesses, transport services, maintenance services, and supporting businesses that supply the demand of the factory. Another gain which characterizes our long-term strategy is the transfer of knowledge, know-how and technology to enable the development of agro-industry and other agricultural supporting sectors. In particular, the factory will be centre of capacity development for Cambodian workers and engineers as they are exposed to both trainings and practice.

Taking this opportunity, in order to ensure the socio-economic interest with sustainability, I would like to request the company to pay high attention in producing the mixed agricultural fertilizers with high quality as well as responding to the need of the technical standard and proper price in order to contribute in promoting the agricultural development in Cambodia through increasing the cultivation yield and farming of Cambodian farmers. Along with this, the company has to strictly respect the working laws, environmental laws, rules and other regulations which are now in effect. The company has to be stick to the principles of high responsibility on the environmental and social issues by closely cooperating with the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy and the Ministry of Environment in implementing the laws on the management of factories-enterprises and laws on the protection of environment in order to protect the welfare, safety, industry and mitigate the negative impacts on the social environment and other pollution, resulted from the process of the activities of this agricultural fertilizer factory.

In this connection, the local workshops and all industries must also pay attention more intensively to strengthen and expand the ability, possibility and quality of the production and its products in order to solve all challenges of the market competition as well as satisfying the consumers. If we enforce this kind of action we will be able to create a mutually supportive mechanism, consistent needs and supply, and contributing to the enhancement of the national competition of Cambodia, which will boost the economic growth more intensively leading to the acceleration of development in our society.

At the same time, I would like to request the competent authorities, especially the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy to continue good cooperation by preparing clear cut monitoring program, which is to be consistently done, in order to make sure that the production and products are in line with the industrial standard. In this connection, the Ministry of Environment must take a lead in strictly monitoring the management of industrial wastes as well as cooperating with the company in implementing principles of clean technology, aiming to reduce wastes and negative impacts on the environment, human and weather. In this spirit, I strongly believe that all related ministries/institution will continue implementing their tasks with high responsibility.

At the end, with the announcement to open the construction of the Agricultural Fertilizers Factory of the Five Star International Fertilizer Cambodia now, I would like to wish the Venerable Monks, Excellencies, Lok Oknha, Ladies and Gentlemen, National and International Distinguished Guests and all Compatriots the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.

Keynote Address at the Dissemination of Statement on Social Land Concession Policy for Veterans and Families

Phnom Penh, December 23, 2009

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, it is my pleasure to be here in the dissemination ceremony of statement on social land concession policy for veterans and families with Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen who are the management of ministries/institutions, municipality, provinces and civil servants and armed forces. This event does not only allow us to exchange dialogue and instructions to realize some important jobs, but it also helps us to sustain the policy implementation. The policy to be launched and disseminated at the moment must be jointly and consistently implemented by all related ministries, institutions, and other stakeholders in order to bring about good outcomes and prosperity for the whole society.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to extend my appreciation to the inter-ministerial commission led by H.E. Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon, Minister of Economy and Finance and Chairman of Committee on Economic and Financial Policy and its members for composing this statement as instructed by me in the plenary cabinet meeting on September 4, 2009. Along with this, I highly value contribution from all levels of the civil servants and armed forces in the concerted effort to undertake various governments’ initiatives and measures to provide social land concession to armed forces and their families by all kinds of means and methods, which have realized outcomes as follows:

- The allocation of social land concession within the framework of military demobilization;

- The allocation of social land concession for military development;

- The allocation of many hectares of social land concession in Veal Thom Village, Treng Troyeung Commune, Phnom Sruoch District, Kampong Speu Province to disable soldiers and families of armed forces for housing construction and farming;

- The Royal Government, by the Sub-decree No. 33 ANK.PK dated April, 11, 2007 took away 2,507 hectares of forest land, of which 1,317 hectares were allocated to Siem Reap Province for the purpose of social land concession and 1,190 hectares were offered to the Ministry of Defense for further distribution to the families of soldiers.

- My wife and I are organizing villages for families of serving, disabled and dead soldiers in some regions, including the provision of 173 hectares of social land concession to 100 families of disabled soldiers in Taken Koh Sla, Kampot Provice; and additional 16,400 hectares to 1912 families in Chorm Ksan District, Preah Vihear Province.

What we are currently doing cannot fulfill our needs. In this spirit, we must continue to put more effort and do our utmost to implement the job to achieve our target.

In particular, I would like to highlight today major goals and principles as well as measures and mechanism to successfully realize this policy implementation as follows:

First: Social land concession policy for veterans do not only contribute to sustainability of social safety net and serve the purpose of military reform as stipulated in “Rectangular Strategy Phase II” , it also brings about vast benefits to support the following socio-economic goals:

1. Expressing gratitude to the veterans and their families for the enormous sacrifice through the strengthening of social safety net for them;

2. Restructuring labor contribution by transforming inactive human resources into an active production force to provide opportunity to veterans and their families to own lands and contribute to national development.

3. This policy does not only reduce military and national defense spending, but it also reflects the real substance of spending on social safety net system.

4. Updating our armed forces by recruiting new resources if needed

Second. In order to achieve socio-economic goals above, the government is adhering to some key principles as follows:

1. Equity Principle. The government has set priorities in their

policies by targeting those who deserve social land concession as well as ordering of provision of this social land concession with transparency, because the government cannot provide social land concession based on equality principle to all veteran families, because of limited state financial resource, implementation of national policy on land management based on efficiency principle, variation in livelihood of veterans and their families, it means these coexist the rich who does not need land and the poor who need land. Furthermore, need of each family are not the same.

2. Efficiency Principle in Land Management. Land, key

fundamental natural resource which can be utilized for socio-economic development and is limited resources which cannot be expanded easily, demands for efficient and rational management in order to sustainably answer the needs of the nation and people of next generations to come. In this sense, in provision of social land concession to veterans and family, the government will be associated with need for strengthening efficiency and productivity in systematic management of state land resource, especially in policy dimension related to identification and management of state reserved land, identification and reclassification of forest-covered land and deforested land which can be utilized as social land concession, transforming inactive economic land concession into social land concession and strengthening linkage between economic land concession and social land concession as envisaged in Rectangular Strategy of the government.

3. Economic efficiency in utilization of social land

concession. One of main objectives of provision of social land concession to veterans and family is to establish social safety net for the really poor veteran families so that they can build their houses, make a living with family-base farming in order to contribute to upgrade their living standards and to improve agricultural productivity and intensification for economic development and poverty reduction. Therefore, to ensure the economic efficiency of use of social land concession, the government does not allow those who possess social land concession retain it for selling, leasing, exchanging for labor, fencing it without usage.

4. Principle of integration of veteran in to society: One of the main objectives within frameworks of national armed force reform is to ensure the integration of retired, incompetent, disabled and dead armed force in to society so that they can live as civilian in harmony with their families and communities. To achieve the goal, the government will carry out a comprehensively systematic measure by developing plans for residence construction sites and business activities at concessional sites with the support of socio-economic physical infrastructures such as transport networks, irrigation system, potable water, schools, health centers, pagodas, assistance for house construction and early needed residing, provision of social service and other training to help their living for medium and long term. In the sense, the land area of the concession programs should be appropriately large. For instance, each program should prepare for 200 to 300 families with proper planning of land use, socio-economic physical infrastructure; business, agriculture and production sites, as farming so on.

Third: For policy and legal framework, the government issues some important documents as stated in the statement. In this regard, I would like to add on the work of the social land concession that we need to pay attention on the package issues of state-owned land management from land identification, land classification and planning for land use in comply with basic rule of sub-decree, particularly sub-decree on state-owned land management and sub-decree on the planning process of commune/sangkat land use. These two sub-decrees emphasize clearly the framework of the use and management of the state-owned land, the limitation of the rights and obligation of the administration and institution of the state in the arrangement and management of state-owned land.

Fourth: In addition to policies and principles mentioned, we need to review further measures and mechanism to be implemented for this social land concession. In a spirit of transforming the statement on social land concession policy for the veterans and families into concrete actions, the government has laid out measures and mechanism as follows:

1. The Ministry of National Defense and Ministry of Interior must prepare to transfer the retired and disabled armed forces with disability and the dead families to be under the management of the Ministry of Social Works, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation. In this regard, the Ministry of National Defense, Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Social Works, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation must prepare a data system, which has clear list in each institution, and create mechanism to constantly verify and update by closely cooperating with the Ministry of Economy and Finance in order to expand management of transferring of the retired and disabled armed forces with disability and the dead families. The Ministry of Economy and Finance must prepare the budget planning for the Ministry of National Defense for the gradual transfer of militant type- II from the Ministry of National Defense to be under the management of the Ministry of Social Works, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation.

2. Based on the transfer plan, those who have not been transferred from the armed forces will continue receiving equal attention as the other armed forces too.

3. Those, who will be transferred from the armed forces based on this plan, will become the signal to identify the allocation of the prioritized social land concession first; and for those, who have been already transferred, will be in the second round of priority for the identification signal for the provision of this social land concession.

4. Create an inter-ministry committee to be a mechanism to identify the retired and disabled armed forces with disability and the dead families, who will be receiving the social land concession with the composition as set in the policy statement. This committee is obligated to set the prioritized criteria to prepare the list and update the armed forces and families, who are truly poor, homeless and landless for agriculture; and who are willing to live in the social concession land to be allocated by the state.

5. After the identification of the armed forces and families for the allocation of the social land concession, this committee must send those lists to the National Committee for Social Land Concession in order to take further action based on the priority and its network at the municipal, provincial, district and communal level.

6. The mechanism for implementation, which includes the defining of location until the division of social concession land and the observation after the allocation of social concession land, must conform to the mechanism of social land concession of the Royal Government stated in the Sub-decree 19 dated 19 March 2003. For this mechanism, the Minister of Land management, Urban Planning and Construction is the Chairman of the National Committee for Social land Concession and organizational chart starts from the local, communal levels and comprehensive legal framework. Therefore, this committee is required to ensure to achieve the target and significant principles in allocating the social land concession to the ex-soldiers and families as illustrated above. Moreover, the implementation of the work on social land concession in a greater number of provinces, which is being in process with excellent results under the management competency of this mechanism, will also contribute to ensure institutional consistency and consistency in policy implementation of the government.

7. In order to achieve the objective to ensure institutional and policy implementation consistency of the government to implement the policy on social land concession to the veterans and families, the committee for land consumption and division of the municipality, provinces and communes are necessary to be jointly responsible even this program has been initiated at the national level. In fact, we have three significant tasks related to the work of social land concession, which include the identification of the retired and disabled armed forces with disability and the dead families, to be done by the inter-ministry committee at the national level and led by the Ministry of Social Works, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, the seeking of land to support the program and development work and plan, which necessarily requires information from the sub-national level, and the secretariat of the committee for social land concession at the national level and all ministries/institutions must get together and rationalize to response to the request to serve the national program.

As for the location to support the program, the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning, and Construction and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries have primarily collected a number of data through the line departments of the two ministries. Thus, after the meeting today, the two ministries must establish a working group to go and discuss with the committee of state-owned management at the municipal and provincial levels in order to set an select appropriate locations according to the scale of priorities to be prepared before sending information about number of armed forces to be retired, and those who will be allocated the land in each province.

Based on the location planned, the municipal and provincial governors, who are the chairman of the technical cooperation committee of the municipal and provincial councils, must study and be prepared to solve the issue of resettlement and qualification to support the family business for a living of our people. The study must be done in the spirit of integration plan either physical infrastructure or pubic services by coordinating the public and private investment programs.

As for land, which has been studied so far, stated in the policy statement include: land collected base on court verdict, economic concession land, confiscated by the disrespect of contracts, lands which were illegal controlled, eroded land which could be partially used at the appropriate areas, lands which have been identified based on the government’s circular № 06 dated on 8th November 2007, which according to the report made by the Ministry of Land Management Urban Planning and Construction, there have been 34,830 hectars in 12 provinces.

In the context of development goal of the government and the practical possibility, especially the location of the land to serve the program, meaning after the building of general plan related to the various municipalities and provinces, the National Committee for Social Land Concession must oversee and seek advice from the Royal Government in main activities distribution to be directly led by the national level by collaborating with sub-national level and the program which is fully responsible by the sub-national level under the technical support from the sub-national level.

Every points put forward in this meeting is to clarify the goals, principles, measures and mechanisms to implement the social land concession policy for the armed forces and families in order to achieve important purpose of armed force reform, establishing social safety net for the citizens and to promote development for poverty reduction of the people. After the announcement meeting today, all ministries/institutions and all related committees must be in hurry to design work plans related to the land identification to be used for the programs, identification to those who are worth receiving social land concession according to the level of priorities and think of the qualification to be prepared for the living of our people at the initial stage. All works must be well planned in 2010 in order to be used as a foundation for budget preparation. We hope that our national society will tremendously receive fruitful results with efficiency and success according to the set objectives.

In fact, this social land concession could also be used in distributing to the victims of natural disaster, families of new resettlement and community development and these works will contribute to the solution of various social issues, enhancement of the living condition and poverty alleviation of the people. In this sense, we will continue putting greater efforts to implement this social land concession task to be more comprehensive in the future according to the actual possibility and ability. In this regard, the Royal Government strongly believes that all people will surely contribute with related ministries/institutions of the Royal Government in order to implement this policy more effectively.

At the end, with the Dissemination of Statement on Social Land Concession Policy for Veterans and Families, I would like to wish Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen the four Gems of Buddhist blessing.

Keynote Address at the Conferment of Medals and Degrees of the Isles International University

National Institute of Education, December 8, 2009

Excellencies, Oknhas, Ladies and Gentlemen Distinguished National and International Guests,

The Management and all Professors of the Isles International University,

Dear Graduates and all the Students!

It is my privilege and honor today to be here in the conferment of medals and degrees of the Isles International University. This event indeed reflects the progress of country’s higher education sector as more and more Cambodia students are now able take up the challenge and complete higher education programs at various international universities. This also proves Cambodia’s human resource development has been significantly improved.

Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and myself, I would like to congratulate all the graduates and medal awardees. This event summarizes all the graduates’ efforts and patience, as well as lecturers’ untiring commitment to sharing knowledge and instructing their students. This event is a pride of our students since each individual student must satisfy all criteria set by the university’s assessment panel. All the Cambodian and foreign students must have either presented successfully in front of the assessment panel or passed their exams before the degrees are conferred. This intellectual achievement does not only represent the pride of individual awardees, but the pride of students’ families and the society as a whole which has been awarded with highly potential, confident and competent human capital for accelerating socio-economic progress towards prosperity and happiness.

In addition, I would like to extend my appreciation to the Isles International University for its contribution in human resource development in Cambodia. The contribution has been highlighted by the event we are attending today. This achievement will further promote human resource development and education sector, especially higher education.

Moreover, in spite of many years of progress in our education sector, we still have a long way to go, both in terms of quantity and quality. Large quantity with below standard quality will not enable us to realize what we expect and it is a waste of time and money. Similarly, small quantity of human resource cannot respond to the requirement of development. Hence, the quantity and quality must be both realized.

The Royal Government has given great importance to education and skill development sector to accommodate regional and global labor market. Through these efforts, the number and quality of public and private educational institutions have grown significantly and the number of graduates sees a noticeable rise. In particular, the Royal Government of the Fourth Legislature of the National Assembly identified human resource development as one of its priorities and an important agenda of the Rectangular Strategy-Phase II. This job is a concrete foundation for strengthening socio-economic development and ensuring sustainable growth to alleviate poverty incidence.

Moreover, according to the report by Prof. Dr. Hadib Sando, representative of the Isles International University and the welcoming remarks by H.E Cheam Yeap, representative of the graduates, it reaffirmed about the reason why this University decided to request for a venue for the conferment of medals and degrees for Khmer and foreign students of the 7th batch in Cambodia today. Realizing that education sector in Cambodia today has been improving very fast, especially the human resource development at the higher education level and the impression from other countries in the region and the world, the management of the Isles International University planned to set up its branch in Cambodia in the upcoming 2010 with the objective to share knowledge and experiences to the students at bachelor and post graduate levels coming from a number of countries nearby Cambodia such as Viet Nam, Lao, Myanmar, Thailand, who have conducted researches and have exchanged their experiences in all sector in either real science or social sciences. Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I would like to warmly welcome and support the vision as mentioned above and wish to encourage this University for every efforts made in contributing to the development of education sector in Cambodia. Along with this, I would like the University to diversify academic curriculums and specializations and to be well equipped with instruments and modern facilities for the purpose of teaching and learning as well as for research by students and teachers, especially the library and laboratory.

Providing the HUN SEN Cultural Center to be the venue for medals conferment, granted by the King Albert 2 and awarding the State Doctor of Philosophy (State PhD) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) to the graduates, who are Cambodian civil servants and foreigners, is the tremendous honor for us all because this ceremony has provided us the opportunity to understand each other and accelerate closer cooperation. At the same time, this ceremony has been organized with the view of the Isles International University to make sure that foreign students know and better understand about the glorious culture and civilization since the ancient time of Cambodia: the Kingdom of Wonder, which had been constructed by Khmer Ancestors and under the royal leadership of the famous Khmer kings in many reigns and decades. The magnificent masterpieces as well as the architectural styles of various temples are the achievements that have been universally recognized a long time ago, and are being admitted to be the world heritage one by one. Therefore, this event has provided a lot of advantages for all foreign students, who have the opportunity to visit Cambodia now to improve their awareness and clearly witness the progress in Cambodia, especially I would like to encourage the Doctoral Professors and all graduates to travel to Siem Reap and explore more about the tremendous cultural heritages in the magnificent land of Angkor of our Cambodia.

Once again, I am truly proud that the Isles International University has continued cooperation and seen the opportunities in Cambodia after this University has awarded me with an Honorary Ph.D Degree and a medal on the 10th April 2004 at the Council of Ministers. In the meantime, I am also proud and would like to praise our graduates, who are civil servants, in trying to spare their precious busy time from serving the nation, and take the opportunity to study until receiving degrees with pride for us all today.

The result of today’s event makes me believe further and proud of Cambodian civil servants, who have always fulfilled their duties to serve the nation with high responsibility, patience, and be able to improve and strengthen their capacities by trying their utmost to seek knowledge in all means to make sure that they are capable enough to fill up the need of our people and beloved nation.

In fact, the achievements made today came from the blood and sweat, in which we are unable to forget what we have come across so far. The presence of the graduates today truly stems from all kinds of sacrifices in order to salvage the nation from the tragedy and more than 30 years of efforts in restoring and rebuilding the country. This has highlighted the true pride of Cambodian graduates who have achieved this brilliant success based on a foundation, which was destroyed to the root in all sectors such as social infrastructure, economic, culture and human resources under the Pol Pot genocidal regime. Because of these factors, the spirit of the 7th January is not just the liberation day for Cambodian people from the regime but also the day of destiny of our people and nation as well as the spirit of new development and achievements.

Before ending, I would like to thank once again the Isles International University and all Doctoral Professors, who have successfully trained all these graduates until receiving their degrees today. Along with the human resource we have had in hand, we have to continue preparing and sharpening various mechanisms for using all these resources, meaning to use the right people for the right jobs and with the right skills and talents, to achieve maximum productivity in our production.

Finally, I would like to congratulate and wish all successful graduates good health and success in their professionalism and I would also like to wish Excellencies, Lok Chum Teav, Lok Okhna, Ladies and Gentlemen, National and International Distinguished Guests and all Students, who are present here today the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.

Keynote Address at the Opening of the Construction Site of the 117 Km National Road No. 68, from Kralanh, Siem Reap to O Smach

Udor Meanchey, December 5, 2009

Your Venerable Monks,

Your Excellencies, Ambassadors of Friend Countries to the Kingdom of Cambodia,

Your Excellencies, Oknhas, Ladies and Gentlemen Distinguished National and International Guests,

Dear Compatriots!

Today, it is my pleasure to be here with Your Venerable Monks, Excellencies, Oknhas, ladies and gentlemen distinguished national and international guests, public servants, armed forces, lecturers, students, and all the compatriots at the opening of construction site of the National Road No. 68, from Kralanh-Siem Reap to O Smach, Cambodia’s northwestern border with Thailand. The construction and restoration of this road will be fully financed by the Royal Government of Cambodia to respond to the people’s actual needs, in spite of the current global financial and economic crisis. Although this and other areas are far from the municipal Phnom Penh, the development gap has been narrowed as the Royal Government is doing its utmost to implement internal integration by constructing new physical infrastructure, especially, roads and bridges to link rural areas to cities.

Taking this joyful opportunity, I would like to congratulate all the people on the opening of this construction site, which is a Royal Government’s investment in physical infrastructure to underpin growth, promote people’s living standard, and take part in poverty reduction effort.

I have already identified this area as an economic pole, among Cambodia’s other poles, as it is favorable for agriculture and tourism development. This area is rich in temples and historic resorts for promoting growth.

As H.E. Tram Eav Toek, the Minister of Public Works and Transport, has mentioned in his report, the National Road No. 68 is an ancient road which has many direction-telling bridges that are similar to those located in Kampong Kdei, Siemreap Provice. Besides the vast rice field area, this area has fertile soil for other agri-business plants such as rubber, cassava, bean, cashew nut, sesame, tea, coffee and so on. Thus, we must build a good road network to transport goods, promote trade and tourism with the neighboring countries, as stipulated in the ACMECS framework. Moreover, this area is located on two main corridors that serve both national and international transport purpose from western to eastern part. The first corridor is the northern sub-corridor of the first southern corridor of the GMS which runs through Poipet – Siem Reap - Preah Vihear – Talabarevat - Steung Treng – Banlung – O Yadov and heads to Qy Nhon Port in Vietnam. The second corridor can runs from Poipet – Siem Reap to Phnom Penh – Bavet or Kampong Cham - Tropeang Thlong by passing the National Road No. 5, No. 6, No. 1, or No.5, No.6, No.7, No. 72 and heads to Ho Chi Minh city. Adding to this, the National Road No. 68, No.66 (formerly No.67), No.62, No. 58 all link to the above mentioned corridors. Thus, after the construction of the National Road No.68 has been completed, this area will become an important and real economic pole in Cambodia. In particular, the success construction of this road which is fully financed by the Royal Government of Cambodia will be a pride for our nation.

On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I remain firmly committed to the restoration and development of all sectors, especially the restoration, maintenance and development of transportation infrastructure which is the prioritized policy of the RGC in rapidly realizing its people poverty reduction objective, that is because “wherever there is road there will be hope”, which enable the transportation of goods to market, attracting investors and tourists, easing travel to hospitals, schools, and creating numerous employment for the people.

I would like to support and encourage the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, the engineering team of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, my engineering team stationed in Siem Reap province, department of road, center for heavy machineries, department of public works and transport of Utdor Meanchey province as well the local authorities at all levels and people residing in areas affected by the project, to try their utmost to closely cooperate in boosting the renovation of this significant National Road No.68 which could connect Siem Reap with Utdor Meanchey of the northern part of Cambodia successfully with high quality, conforming to the right technical standard and as scheduled in order to accelerate the pace of socio-economic development to reduce poverty of the people faster.

Based on this viewpoint and the spirit of high pride for the achievements that we have jointly and hardly made, and in the spirit of deep optimism for the bright future of Cambodia, I would like to appeal to the members of the Royal Government, local authorities at all levels, and the management as well as civil servants of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport to continue maintaining the good tradition of cooperation by trying intensively further in order to link the transportation network to all corners of the country and in the region. On the other hand, the cooperation and understanding of our people is necessary in successfully promoting the process of road and bridges construction, with long lasting quality.

At the same time, on behalf of the Royal Government and people of Cambodia, I would like to thank the governments and people of friend countries and various financing agencies, who have always provided both spiritual and material supports in order to restore and develop the economy of Cambodia, especially through improving and building transport infrastructure. I would like to appreciate and continue encouraging the management and civil servants, workers, employees of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, local authorities and all related institutions, who have put greatest efforts in joining together to realize the objectives of the strategic planning as set out by the Royal Government, especially the construction of this National Road No.68.

Based on the high responsibility in helping the Royal Government to maintain achievements that we have hardly succeeded so far, I would like to remind all local authorities to constantly continue taking strict and comprehensive measures toward those vehicle owners who have always overloaded their transportation. Along with that, in any circumstance, I would like to urge the competent authorities and the people to pay high attention in obeying the traffic law by taking great care while driving, especially urging helmets wearing by 100% for the motor drivers in order to protect their lives as well as the state-owned and private properties and to avoid imposing serious costs to society because of the miseries such as poverty, disability, and ophaness, resulted from the loss of parents in traffic accidents.

Finally, with today’s inauguration of the construction and renovation site of the National Road No.68 from Kralanh of Siem Reap to O Smach of Utdor Meanchey, I would like to wish Your Venerable Monks, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, civil servants, armed forces, and all compatriots the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.

Keynote Address at the 11th Anniversary of Cambodia’s Day of Disabled Persons and 27th Anniversary of the International Day of Disabled Persons

National Education Institute, December 3rd, 2009

Your Excellencies, Senators, Members of Parliament, and Members of the Royal Government,

Your Excellencies, Ambassadors of Friend Countries to the Kingdom of Cambodia,

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen Distinguished National and International Guests,

Dear Disabled Compatriots, Teachers, and Students!

I am delighted today to be here in the 11th Anniversary of Cambodia’s Day of Disabled Persons and the 27th Anniversary of the International Day of Disabled Persons being held on December 3rd, 2009. May I take this opportunity to praise the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation and related institutions, Disability Action Council, Cambodian Organization of Disabled Persons, NGOs, the private sector, and other donors for organizing this event, as well as for the contribution in the sector of persons with disabilities and rehabilitation efforts. This shows that we strongly support persons with disabilities and encourage them to fully participate in national development effort.

I would like to take this opportunity to extend my deepest gratitude to His Majesty KING NORODOM SIHAMONI OF CAMBODIA for supporting people with disabilities. I would also like to extend my profound gratitude to His Majesty KING-FATHER NORODOM SIHANOUK OF CAMBODIA and Her Majesty KING-MOTHER MONINEATH SIHANOUK OF CAMBODIA for the kind assistance given to their people with disabilities. I would like to wish His Majesty KING, KING-FATHER and KING-MOTHER healthiness and strength to remain as the umbrella of all Cambodian people.

The theme “We all Participate in the Enforcement of Law on Protection and Promotion of Rights for People With Disabilities” of the 11th Anniversary of Cambodia’s Day of Disabled Persons and 27th Anniversary of International Day of Disabled Persons reflects our commitment in protecting the rights, freedom and benefits of disabled persons, eliminating discrimination against them, promoting mental well-being and restoring work ability to ensure they can fully and equally participate in social activities.

To address the disability issues, the Royal Government has done its utmost to integrate disabled persons into the society by promoting their access to basic needs, especially protecting their rights such as the right to life, receiving education, getting jobs, and moving around freely to enable them to fully participate in social activities to realize an inclusive social environment which is free of discrimination and based on respect of human rights and dignity.

To support this vision, the Royal Government has put forward an array of disability policies, and in particular, adopted the Law on Protection and Promotion of Rights for People With Disabilities on July 3, 2009. Moreover, the Royal Government signed the Convention and Protocol on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on October 1, 2007, joined the 2002-2013 Biwako Millennium Framework, and added its own 9th millennium development goal which is designed to accelerate demining UXOs and provide assistance to victims. Recently, the Royal Government has adopted the plan to assist landmine victims and established a national committee, chaired by the Minister of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation, to oversee this task. This task is indeed essential and helps realize the objectives stated in Biwako Millennium Framework which is to integrate persons with disabilities into the mainstream society through inclusiveness and barrier-free treatment for persons with disabilities. It also complies with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Royal Government’s Policies and Rectangular Strategy.

According to the Second Population Census, the number of persons with disabilities has declined from 2% in 1998 to 1.4% in 2008. Drivers behind this decline include:

- The end of war which brought the country with full peace has helped to completely eliminate the number of disabled people from war. Along with that, high economic growth, general change of people’s living standard has also contributed to the reduction of the handicaps’ rate.

- The prioritization of the Royal Government on the sector of social works, cultures, education, health, agriculture and rural development…etc, has been fruitful such as the disability prevention program for all people, pre-pregnancy, during pregnancy, and neonatal health care, the allocation of vaccines for handicap related diseases, medical treatment, reflexology treatment, mental treatment and physical rehabilitation education, the elimination of the Polio since 1998 reduced the disability from birth.

- The result of de-mining work and the assistance provided to handicaps of mines, have remarkably reduced the number of mine dangers. In reality, the number of people involved in mine related accidents in 2005 was 875 people, 450 people in 2006, 352 people in 2007, 269 people in 2008 and 199 people in 2009, in which our goal is to continually reduce this figure.

- The strengthening of preventive measures against the traffic accidents and disability, the strengthening of traffic law enforcement, the establishment of dissemination and education measures, the creation of law enforcement mechanism, the inspiration of wearing safety helmets as well as ensuring the social order and security, the prevention and suppression of other violence in the society that lead to the disability, have also contributed, to some extent, to the reduction in the number of disabled people caused by traffic accidents.

- The strengthening of work safety measures at the construction site, factories, enterprises, and handicrafts, has also been paid attention to. The on-the-job accident insurance regime for civil servants and employees and employers of the private sector, have also been put into operation continually.

- The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation has prepared the implementation of comprehensive policies for people with disabilities with fruitful outcomes. The provision of workability service for people with disabilities has been delivered for free and many disabled people have received vocational training, have been working in factories, companies with professional ownership and also contributed to the production of goods for market demand. Along with that, the talents of people with disabilities in the sector of arts, cultures, handicrafts have also been abundant, the masterpieces that cannot be done by normal persons. The Cambodian handicapped sportsmen and sportswomen have participated in the national and international competitions and have also brought back a number of successes.

In actuality, these successes do not just only reflect the intensive struggle of the handicapped people in implementing their own rights as well as improving their living standard in families, but also show their participation in implementing the Political Platform and Rectangular Strategy-Phase II of the Royal Government.

In order to assist the handicaps to participate fully and equally in the society, the Royal Government has been boosting and encouraging in providing opportunities for handicaps to be more competent in joining the competition of the labor market, which is more lucrative to ensure sustainability of their living with ownership and dignity. In this regard, the Royal Government has been encouraging and supporting the preparation of organization or self-help group of the handicaps in order to mutually support, learn, depend on each other as well as mutual financing in jointly solving the life issues or challenging environment that they cannot solve by themselves in the framework of individual. The attention to the community basis where the handicaps are living, is greatly significant in looking for issues and real needs that handicaps are facing and jointly solve the problems and those needs are at the local community they are living in, in order to effectively contribute to the poverty reduction and vulnerability of the people.

The Royal Government has continued to promote the method of supporting the handicaps on humanitarian aid to be the supporting mechanism based on the rights of the handicap as stipulated in law on the prevention and enhancement of handicaps, especially the establishment of social safety nets in order to insure the welfare of the handicaps, which is a better way than depending on only the humanitarian aid, which cannot ensure the sustainability of the service delivery for the handicaps. In fact, the handicaps do not want to live dependently or by aid forever, but, they want to have skills and proper jobs in order that they can be more independent. The Royal Government has continued to promote the prioritized policy for allocating the social concession land for the poor families and vulnerable people, whom the handicaps are of high priorities. The Royal Government has allocated many hectares of social concession land in the Veal Thom Village, Treng Trayeong Commune, Phnom Sruoch District, Kampong Speu Province for the handicaps of about more than 300 families to build houses, do plantation and other cultivation. Recently, the Royal Government has put out the policy on the allocation of the social concession land for the retired armed forces, those who lost their working ability, become disabled, and the sacrificed families in order to improve their living while being transferred to be civilians.

My wife and I have built houses for people with disabilities at Taken Koh Sla, the bordering community between Kompong Speu and Kampot Province. We also funded US$ 1 Million for house buildings for people with disabilities in Koulen District in Siem Reap Province. The Royal Government of Cambodia has also included in the Public Investment Program for its three rolling years of the people with disabilities village development’ projects in five provinces and other house building projects in some communities. Moreover, through the Cambodia’s Veterans Association, we have built fifty houses for people with disabilities who contributed to the defense of the nation. This project will continue annually.

We have done and achieved a lot for people with disabilities, but they are still facing many obstacles in their lives that need our strong support to solve those obstacles gradually:

1st, Physical Barrier:

We should strengthen our rehabilitation services to help people with disabilities such as providing necessary tools to support their body, health services, reflexology treatment as needed with comfortability. At the same time, we should think carefully on a step by step basis on how to assist people with disabilities such as having entrance-exits for people with disabilities at public and private places, such as transportation means, at works, on the streets, at leisure areas, cultural centers, academic institutions, hotels and hospitals etc.. We should have ramp, at rest rooms, signs, including visual and vocal signs and reserved parking lots for people with disabilities.

2nd, Communication Barrier:

We should provide necessary tools to support the blinds and deaf people to communicate and receive information about our society such as education, vocational training through Braille and Sign Languages at training centers, transmitting via media channels and increase the use of information technology to people with disabilities.

3rd, Legal Barrier:

We must prepare legal documents relating to Law on Protection and Promotion of Rights for People with Disabilities such as the preparation of sub-decree, directive, Prakas of Inter-Ministerial, Ministerial Prakas for effective and timely implementation of law. We should propose for adding, changing or amending any legal document that may bar people with disabilities to fully participate in the society.

4th, Social Barrier:

We should raise awareness about the disability to local communities to prevent, reduce and abolish all forms of discrimination and stigma against people with disabilities. Moreover, we must encourage the multi-parties’ participation in the promotion of rights for people with disabilities.

In fact, we have many duties to carry out, to act together to resolve any problems for people with disabilities so that they can fully participate with equity in the society, to be able to compete freely, independently with dignity in the labor market.

Within this context, I would like to raise some recommendations as follow:

1.Strengthen and expand the disability preventive measures more effectively by reducing the venerability in the society, preventing violence, traffic accidents, work related accidents, strengthening health system, demining and UXOs, strengthening of workability rehabilitation and raising awareness on the prevention of disability.

2. Effectively promote the Law on Protection and Promotion of Rights for People with Disabilities. I strongly support the theme of People with Disabilities’ Day 2009 that goes “We all participate in the enforcement of Law on Protection and Promotion of Rights for People with Disabilities”.

This law is the most meaningful legal instrument that response to the urgent needs as well as long term needs of people with disabilities. This law will change the humanitarian like handicap’s services to a systematic social insurance services for people with disabilities.

To implement this law more effectively, the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation must raise the awareness of this law comprehensively to all people across the country. Similarly, we must prepare relevant legal documents and mechanisms for law enactment in a timely manner. The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation is a key implementing agency in making sure all articles of this law is respected accordingly and effectively.

3. The key to handicap related tasks is to strengthen and to increase the spirit of ownership of people with disabilities. Within this regards, May I urge all people with disabilities to sharpen their braveness, hope and self-confidence, using their remaining physical ability to overcome any difficulties, raising their standard of living independently as well as contributing to the national development.

4. Continue to mobilize resources to develop the welfare sector for people with disabilities. I encourage development partners to support the disability sector and to consider creating the disability policy which focuses on providing services to people with disabilities. Similarly, I encourage the private sector to participate in disability related works voluntarily and obligatorily as stated in the Law on Protection and Promotion of Rights for People with Disabilities by including the disability issues in its activities and help people with disabilities integrate themselves at the maximum level.

5. The Ministry of Social Affairs Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation and relevant ministries/institutions of all levels must efficiently and sustainably continue strengthening handicap related tasks and improving workability rehabilitation and be focal point for implementing national policy for people with disabilities and promote effective enforcement of Law on Protection and Promotion of Rights for People with Disabilities. Sub-national administration of all levels must pay attention to handicap related tasks, incorporate it into the action plan of sub-national administration and ensure its efficient implementation.

6. Continue humanitarian activities for poor people with disabilities who are facing real hardship at local areas, in this sense I would like to appeal to members of the government, national assembly, senate and the kind-hearted to keep helping and supporting poor people with disabilities at local areas, who are in bad need of support

7. Continue strengthening and expanding sustainable physical workability rehabilitation service to people with disability. According to information I received, international organizations who are managing 11 physical workability rehabilitation centers will complete their projects in 2011 and will transfer the management of the centers to the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation. The transfer has been gradually started since 2008. On behalf of the government I would like to convey my deep appreciation to 5 organizations namely Veterans International, Handicap International Belgium, Handicap International France, The Cambodia Trust and International Red Cross for support for 11 physical workability rehabilitation centers and left with basic material, human resource and technique...etc… for sustainable conduct of the centers.

Finally, May I wish all Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, national and international guests, dear compatriots, teachers, students and veterans the four Gems of Buddhist Blessings: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.

Inaugurations Achievements at the Angkor Knong Buddhist Pagoda, Dauntei Commune, Punnhea Krek District, Kompong Cham province

30 November 09

My wife and I are so happy to be able to come see you all in the Buddhist pagoda of Angkor Knong, Dauntei commune, Punnhea Krek district after my presence on February 26, 2006, when I initiated some reconstruction projects. Our meeting today shows a strong solidarity between our Government and provincial officials, the armed forces, politicians and our people from all walks of life in rehabilitating an historic site which is 499 years of age now, as it was built under the reign of Hluong Preah Sdej Kan in 1514 – 1516 and was abandoned later in 1525. The place was also neglected there later by various regimes, especially destruction caused by the Pol Pot’s regime. Today we celebrate the inauguration of the Wat Angkor Knong temple, which was before known as Wat Prasat or Wat Preah Ang Khmao.

In 1976, my wife and I stayed in one of the monk’s residences. My wife was sent here on her education (hard labor) mission. She had her morning sickness of our first child here. She worked in the field to help to improve levees, as a cook and a medical practitioner. I joined her here to help her with in that very difficult time. Maybe it is not too exaggerating to say that the sole of Preah Sdej Kan was there to help me out in those days though I have no idea then that it was the former city of Hluong Preah Sdej Kan.

In showing my interest on national heritages, and freedom from judgment on who is who in the past of Cambodian royal reigns, I have initiated reconstruction of two former cities – Veang Jas and Sralob Dautei Pijei Prey Nokor. The Veang Jas (old royal palace) under the reign of Preah Baat Ang Duong, in 1840, has been restored. The area for public hearing hall (Deva Vinichai) has been preserved and I am of the thought to invite HM the King to inaugurate the scene that was left by HM who was his great-grandparents, as his grandsons had been Preah Baat Norodom and Preah Sisowath.

As for this part of the country, we have come to discovering a former capital of Hluong Preah Sdej Kan where there left a monastery under the French, under the Sangkum Reastr Niyum, and the Republic Khmer periods, only by then it was liberated by the liberation forces already. In 1990, HE Lan Chhan, who formerly was Governor of the district of Punnhea Krek and currently Chairman of the Governing Council of Kompong Cham province already rebuilt the Buddhist temple here.

On February 26, 2006, I came here and our people proposed so many projects. There had been a proposal to build a bigger temple. But because I wanted to preserve former form and style, we then decided to build it on former foundation.

Aside from contributions made in rebuilding monastery and other achievements here, the Royal Government invested a sum of 11.638 billion Riels etc. We have incorporated in the 2010 budget draft for building an asphalt road of 11.685 kilometers from national road 7 through to the western entrance of the city barrack.

As far as the Ministry of Water Resource and Meteorology is concerned, HE Lim Kien Hor invested a sum of 710 million Riels in two different steps to restore canals around the barrack and to build some water control systems. The project would be able to irrigate some 2,932 hectares of land. I am sure this has enabled the area to become an ago-tourism. So this is what is termed the state investments in road and water system and I would suggest that we register in our festivity calendar that on November 30 annually we celebrate boat race at Wat Prei Nokor or Angkor Knong.

Maybe I should mention a bit, but not to make judgment, on what happened here in the history of Cambodia. We had come through so many major internal conflicts and therefore I wish that you all keep in mind to be cautious. Our neighboring countries have scolded and cursed their natives of bad manners to get born as a Khmer. Now it seems the spell has taken a reversal effect to them.

I would not need to bring into light today all seven major conflicts but one that was concerning the division of Cambodian territory into three areas of control and again two areas of control with two Kings that in those days were called – HM the King in the east, who had been living here, and HM the King in the west. The conflict was between 1475 and 1486, or about twenty years between a son of HM the King Punnhea Yat, Prince Soriyotei and Preah Srey Raja and Dharma Raja, which in the end Dharma Raja had won with intervention from Siam. Srei Raja and Soriyotei were arrested and taken to Siam. According to “Éksa Moha Boras” (Documents of Great Men), David Chandler and Adhemar Leclere, a conclusion has been drawn Preah Srei Raja died in Battambang, whereas Soriyotei died in Ayudhaya.

The second conflict arose in between 1504 though to 1525, another twenty years. It could be said to have started from when Dharma Raja came to the throne and later had a son named Srei Sokunbot. After his father’s death, the half-Siamese Srei Sokunbot took over the throne and moved the city to Khsaj Kandal where he met and married Srei Sar Chhor, who had a brother whose name was Kan.

The conflict arose in 1508 and started with a dream, which caused turmoil in the whole country and lasted for four years. Sdej (King) Srei Sokunbot dreamed of being threatened by a dragon. Fortunetellers and bad royal officials came to a conclusion that there was a man who had been born in the year of dragon planning a throne coup. This had brought King Srei Sokunbot to a decision that his brother-in-law, Sdej Kan, who was born in the year of dragon, be killed. A plot was prepared secretly but Srei Sar Chhor happened to have heard it and let it be known to Kan to get himself prepared for the danger.

As was planned, Kan was asked to accompany HM the King to fish, and net was tricked to be caught down in the water. Kan was asked to go down and remove the net from there. Once Kan submerged, more nets were thrown to his direction aimed at causing him accidental death. Thanks to information leaked to him by his sister, Kan did not stay under water to be caught by nets but swam away. In revenge, Kan conducted a people’s uprising against the King which could be compared to a people’s democratic revolution.

In those days Cambodia had what it called “God Sevants” or “Pul Preah” and they have their generations to serve God for 5000 years. Because he had a beautiful sister who became HM the King’s wife, Kan was lucky to become HM brother-in-law. In his revolution, Sdej Kan said “if you people supported me, I would give you all equal rights.” So here theory on class struggle came to being since 1508 once Kan started his struggle. Maybe class struggle could not be said exceptionally to have happened first in France, but in Srei Santhor and Khsaj Kandal of Cambodia.

It was because of this that Sdej Kan could mobilize a lot of people and overthrew Srei Sokunbot and killed him in 1512 at Stoeung Sen in Kompong Thom province. After the victory, Sdej Kan took the throne in 1512 at his age 29 years old. So he started his struggle when he was 24 and the two indicators have been identical to my life. I started my struggle against Pol Pot also when I was 25 years old. Sdej Kan became the 39th King after killing Sdej Srei Sokunbot. He was called “Preah Srei Jeddha Dhiraj Rama Thibdei” or in short Preah Srei Jeddha.

Historic records and composition seem to have mixed a bit because according to Leclere, the French Governor General identified the place as only Kan’s barrack. But according to various other studies, that of Ros Chantrabot, Ph. D, a conclusion could be made that Prey Nokor Knong was indeed a city because at the time we had no Jadomuk or Tuol Basan at all. He first came to the throne in Tuol Basan but in 1514, Sdej Kan moved the city to Sralob Dautei Prey Nokor. There have been three versions of how the place or city is called.

The city is between the province of Ba Phnom (a district of Prey Veng province now) and Tbong Khmom (a district of Kompong Cham province now). At the time of construction, Hluong Preah Sdej Kan also built a black Buddha statue here, which because of that the pagoda was once named after the statue. The fact that Hluong Preah Sdej Kan chose to build the city here has proven to be a strategic location too. It is 60 kilometers from the Mekong River and there are roads that are easy land access for transportation but water has been a major scarcity here. That was why Hluong Preah Sdej Kan ordered that water reservoir be built with road accesses from here to waterways at Tonle Bet via Pam Jang, Thmor Pij and Moat Khmong of Kompong Siem (at Mekong River).

Having done so, Hluong Preah Sdej Kan appointed four senior officials – Vieng, Viang, Lumpang and Sral to take care and manage the four main directions, whereas Oknha Vieng took care of the southern water reservoir, Viang the northern, Lumpang the western and Sral the eastern reservoirs. So, to commemorate to those four major commanders, aside from Hluong Preah Sdej Kan, we will see to it that four more statues to be made because we are now using water from reservoirs that were before built, managed and taken care of by them.

Some people have said that I am the reincarnation of Hluong Preah Sdej Kan. It is not my thought. However, I am not the one to threaten or take over the throne. I am a faithful defender of the throne and the monarchy. I wish that people do not confuse my presence here today as a move to declare myself Sdej Kan. Look, what I have done to Veang Jah (Old Palace) that was a place where ancestors of the current King stayed. I am the one to maintain and preserve the place. This should not be misunderstood and as we have learned from history, because of a misunderstanding, which was illustrated as a dream in the Sdej Kan story, the whole nation was brought to turmoil.

I would assure our people of no worry of that sort. Before the elections, everyone could see, the opposition had said that if the Cambodian People’s Party came to power again, the CPP will consolidate its power and the monarchy would eventually doom. To your knowledge and observation, the monarchy in Cambodia is getting stronger by the day in parallel with the CPP’s strength. No one could threaten the monarchy. In the press, though, a member of the Royal family has said about inappropriate manner of our Majesty and we will let this be internal matter of the Royal Palace. I would warn anyone of the Royal family against making critical remarks on HM the King and/or Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk and Samdech Preah Akka Mohesei (the Queen Mother).

Another good thing of this historic place has been the fact that the first Cambodian currency – Sloeng, which were coins in gold, silver … were minted here in 1954. French researcher and author Leclere noticed further that the city was named Krong Sralob Prei Nokor Bura Riej Thiani, where three years later there lived a bigger population about twice the initial number. He also noted there were foreigners coming in to do business, which could be translated that the city was in peaceful life or Sdej Kan had made a peaceful living real for the people. This was written by the French researcher and I just said what has been concluded by him.

The place had in fact been a trade center with Sdej Kan’s currency that was minted in dragon sign. HE Chea Chanto, Governor of the National Bank of Cambodia, has helped in copying these coins and I have shown it to my visitors that Cambodia has got its coins or currency a long time ago. In fact, Preah Baat Ang Duong also had his currency minted too and it was symbolized by a bird - Hang.

Now let me talk a bit about Cambodian-Thai relations. Our people may have heard about a diplomatic note that has been brought to your knowledge by the Cambodia media. It was sent to our counterpart in Thailand on the fact that Cambodia has sought a termination of a sum of 1,400 million Bahts or about 41 or 42 million US dollars for the restoration of the road segment between Krolanh district of Siemreap to O Smaj of Uddar Meanjei or national road 68 with a total length of 117 kilometers.

To cut a long story short our spokesman said that Cambodia has got its own money to build the road itself. However, I would like to take this chance to clarify the matter to you. First I would recall for you that on November 27 I sent HE Tia Banh, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense to inform HE Prawit Wongsuwan and other Thai army leaders at a meeting in Pattaya that Cambodia would like to return to Thailand the 1400 million Bahts loan that Cambodia has been asked for the construction of national 68 and Cambodia will proceed to build the road itself on December 5. About 7 minutes after the notification, contact was established from Bangkok through to me.

Firstly, HE Suthep Thaugsuban, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, wished to send a letter to me directly. I had not had a chance to talk with him on phone. In between 4 and 7 pm, during which I had a meeting with the Lao delegation, including Head of State and Prime Minister, there was another contact and when I came out of the meeting, I was informed that HE Abhisit Vijjajiva, Prime Minister of Thailand wanted to talk to me urgently. It was the first time that the Prime Minister called to me. This has been new because normally I had phone contacts with all former Prime Minister of Thailand – from HE Thaksin, Surayuth, Samak through to Somchai, but not with HE Abhisit until November 27.

He asked me right away if it is true as it was conveyed by HE Defense Minister to HE Prawit (Defense Minister of Thailand) that Cambodia would send (the Thai Government) a letter to return the money. I told him it was true because Cambodia has had a moral impact that you have said to cease assistance and loan. He said it was not true. I said if it was not true, why didn’t you deny it if the press said it wrongly. I told him I need a letter from him to clarify this matter because act of revising what had been said has been too frequent. So the two sides agreed that we would exchange letters and he proposed that Cambodia withdrew its diplomatic note first and he would send me the letter through HE Prawit confirming that the loan continues.

It was planned to exchange letters at 10 am on November 28. Before appointment time, three calls were made to me via my assistant’s phone and because he was far from me the call reached me in Siemreap. Abhisit said because of prior engagement in Songkhla province, and he could not be Chiang Mai, so the letter exchange should be rescheduled to Monday. I just wanted to have the attention of HE Prime Minister Abhisit on one point. You can deny it whichever way you may see fit, but is it really necessary to fly to Bangkok from wherever you were to sign a letter in this modern world of communication technology?

This fact has brought us to a suspicion that there has been a higher degree of political and diplomatic confrontation in Thailand. Why does Cambodia take this position? I wish to inform our people that Cambodia could not longer take the shame and underestimation from the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Thailand. If HE Abhisit needs proof Cambodia could provide him with that because we have compiled a rather good documentation of what had been the discussion and broadcast in the Thai media. We have in our file also what Kasit Phiromya had insulted me when he was with the yellow-shirt protestors.

On November 5, 2009, in response to a suggestion by Surakiat (former Foreign Minister of Thailand) to initiate a reconciliatory gesture to negotiate the differences with Cambodia, Kasit said “Cambodia is the one who started the issue and should therefore resolve it …” Surakiat even suggested that in Copenhagen, it would not be a loss of face if Prime Minister Abhisit should ask to see Prime Minister Hun Sen. Kasit said it all began by Cambodia that appointed Thaksin and refused to arrest him. I would like to clarify this matter to Kasit Pyromya that all has started on July 15, 2008, when Siam invaded Cambodia. This is not to be confused. It is not Thaksin issue which is a year after all that.

It was Kasit, who led the yellow-shirted protestors and abused the Preah Vihear temple of Cambodia. You called me gangster in the Thai parliament. When Pheu Thai got you on that and I demanded an apology, you revised your version to have said that I was “a person of brave heart.” To reaffirm this “it all started when you invaded my country …” You promised to protestors that you will take Preah Vihear and it is there to stay with you. Cambodia would not be finding peace as long as these ambitious Thais are in power. It is totally up to the Thais to decide. It is a government coming out of minority and a military coup, so there is nothing to be concerned about ...

On November 5, 2009, … On November 11, 2009, … On November 12, 2009, Abhisit said after the National Security meeting … considers measures to apply more pressures … On November 13, 2009, Abhisit said ... more measures are being considered, include the 1,400 million Baht loan … Here Abhisit himself involves the money issue ... Abhisit argued annulment of MOU on overlapping areas along the sea … On November 16, 2009, The Nation, Abhisit threatened to take further measures … that might include cutting off financial assistance … On November 17, 2009, Reuters, Abhisit told the press he has more time to think about slashing financial assistance and loan ... instructed the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs to gather bilateral cooperation projects so that the Cabinet works out a response to Cambodia.

On November 28, 2009, after the phone discussion, according to TNA, Abhisit reasoned that Cambodia cancelled the loan request in advance because it misconceived that the Thai Government could reverse its loan of 1400 million Bahts …

Look at it again. It is because you have ordered to pile up all cooperation agreements so that they could be used to apply pressure on Cambodia. Have you used all your measures? Border closure, as I have said many times already, would lead to all forbiddance of Thai products for Cambodian market. I would seek Thai people’s understanding on this matter. They should understand that it is the current Thai Prime Minister who has incapacitated our market relations … Cambodia could not be affronted anymore. Professors in many Universities in Thailand have said that in fact the road to be built will also be used by Thai trucks to take goods in and out of Cambodia too. I would reaffirm that though the road is not going to be built by the Thai money, but Thais also can use the road for their transports. I never declare myself enemy of the Thais along the border or the whole Thai nation at all. It is the current Thai Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, who have underrated us extremely ... I have the duty to explain to my people as to why Cambodia sees it a must to return your offer.

Cambodia may opt for imports from other markets, if ever border closure is to be applied. We have not forbidden Thai fishing boats yet despite your claim we did so. We needed them to register properly. Once again I may need to inform the Thais that Cambodia does not seek to apply border closure at all but will reciprocate in kind to whatever irregular measures to be taken by Thai authority. They had in the last few days fooled Thai companies that Cambodia would confiscate the air catering company and my daughter will take it over. That was how stern they could be and never had they given us their excuse.

I told Abhisit I have worked with ten Thai Prime Ministers already – Chatichai Chunhavan, Anan Pannharachun, Banharn Silpa Achar, Thaksin, … and Abhisit, is the most difficult to work with among all. Deepest Thai division could also be noted under his reign. None of the former Prime Minister ever threatens to cut off assistance. I would instruct Cambodian institutions to review if they have any projects relating to Thai assistance. They may return them so as to free ourselves from the Thai leader’s negative judgment. That may also include sending students to Thailand. It would not be too late if we have to wait till Thailand has a new Government. We could find them good schools in the country.

Negotiation or no negotiation is up to them. Your decisions at Hua Hin prompted my response. You allowed 17 NGOs that the Government did not consent and an opposition MP to be seated in the ASEAN venue. A newspaper in Thailand said that Hun Sen slapped in the face. Some of our people could not imagine too that the Cambodian Prime Minister took such a strong position while on Thai territory. Well because it was about right time to respond to their provocations.

In light of this I would like to inform our people in Siemreap and Uddar Mean Chey that in my capacity as the Prime Minister, democratically elected, and not power-plundering minority politicians like others, I would declare responsible before the Cambodians on my national and external policies to revoke the loan request, which as a matter of fact they would not give us anyway. I have my and Cambodian honors and dignity to maintain. You might threat the tripartite coalition Government that took shelter in your territory before . But you may not do so with me.

They have inferred that in a demonstration … there had been foreign involvement. Who do they mean? Cambodia would not be so naïve to be contracted soldiers in the Southernmost of Thailand. I made this point clear to Prime Minister Surayudh in 2007. If you have problem managing your country please do not point your finger at others for the mistakes you did .