Covid-19 May Be Disruptive but May Not Stop Cambodia’s Development Activities
Today, we are pleased to inaugurate officially 38 roads infrastructure in Siem Reap. I still remember that on November 30, 2020, right at this place, we started the construction of these 38 roads while on the other hand we gathered efforts to fight the outbreak (of Covid-19) on November 28 (in the community). It was the second event after the first one on November 23 […], which also happened in Siem Reap. Covid-19 can hinder and disturb us, but it cannot stop our activities on building what we set out to achieve.
As Samdech Pichey Sena Tea Banh made a report just now regarding the construction process here, I am very proud of all the efforts of the Inter-Ministerial Commission chaired by Samdech Pichey Sena Tea Banh, with the great efforts of HE Deputy Prime Minister Chea Sophara, Senior Minister Sun Chanthol and the specialized units involved in the construction. Directly with the help of the local authorities facilitating the process here makes this achievement a reality and the fruit that comes directly of peace and development.
“We Khmer Can Do It” – an Achievement of Peace
We talked about peace and we talked about development and we mean what we say – “we Khmer can do it”. Everything we have achieved here are shaping using hands of all Cambodian children without any foreign skills and without a single cent of foreign budget. We adopt the method of finding a way for Cambodia to do things for Cambodians. Through our annual economic growth, with the surplus that we saved, we used it to build the infrastructure in Sihanoukville. We take the opportunity that foreign visitors are not crowded as they used to in Siem Reap (because of the Covid-19) to build roads here and be ready. We expect that after Covid-19 disease subsides, tourists will return. What we have been doing will create a favorable situation for Siem Reap and tourism for our country.
Today, as I said (once already) yesterday, I would like to announce again that I would call (this achievement a foundation for another pole) called “the rising star of the north.” We have laid down infrastructure in Siem Reap, plus, not just the road, but also the complex Siem Reap River system, which has been dormant for 40 years, along with the presence of the airport, to commission in 2023. It is now time for us to call (all achievements in) the North – the rising star of the north. I was proud when I inspected the Siem Reap’s infrastructural development in the city yesterday. It was not easy, but the ingenuity of the leaders, and especially the young intellectuals as technicians, worked hard here.
Streets Named after King, Former Kings, Dignitaries Contributed to Peace
I would like to take this opportunity to commend all the nephews who participated in the construction. The difficulties for construction in Siem Reap are different from those in Sihanoukville. Harmonizing the existing infrastructure with the new generation of technical equipment combined with considering nature is not easy. We develop new skills, but we respect the ancient infrastructure. On the other hand, making a drain to release clean water as well as sewage from the house to the streets so as not to fell the trees as consequence is not easy. It was difficult, but the technicians handled the issue smoothly. That is the work of Khmer children and we can say that we Khmer can anything anywhere.
In addition, we named the 38 streets in the provincial town of Siem Reap after HM the King, the former Kings and important people who had gone through the development and construction of this city and contributed to reaching peace process of the country […]. We have a boulevard named after Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk, which connects Siem Reap city to Angkor Wat temple. The road is a big and long one, and it connects with many other roads. Along with HM the King, we also give the roads names of Acha Sva, Po Kambor, etc., who all fought against French colonization. That is the memory for younger generation about the previous generation patriots. I really appreciate the thoughts of His Excellency and Lok Chumteav who worked here.
Siem Reap – Last Territory to End War and Is Bearing Fruits of Peace
The infrastructure built in Siem Reap is inseparable from the country’s peace process. I have already said that Siem Reap is the last territory where we ended the war. Previously we called it Siem Reap Oddar Meanchey, but later we created a separate province of Oddar Meanchey from Siem Reap. The last (Khmer Rouge stronghold) in Anlong Veng at that time was in the territory of Siem Reap. That made Siem Reap the last territory to end the war. (As for) our ring road, which is now being used as the necessary infrastructure to serve the transportation of the people, the people of Siem Reap may still remember that it was not a road, but a city fence or a dam to protect the city from not floods but the Khmer Rouge’s offenses.
The fruits of peace allow us to build things everywhere in the country, including in Siem Reap and here in Soat Nikum district, even the largest or giant airport that can accommodate all kinds of aircraft. The airport will have repercussion to development in the northern part of the country. The construction of road infrastructure and the improvement of the Siem Reap River are also inseparable from the participation of our people. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people who cooperated with the authority to solve obstacles related to road construction. Were there no cooperation from the people, we could not have achieved this. As we embarked on carrying this out, we can achieve two things at the same time – the roads and the people’s daily life improvement […]
I heard from (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction) HE Chea Sophara that when the project started, those living in unregistered settlement decided to leave. Firstly, we thought they could have land elsewhere to settle. We learnt later that they had moved out to live in pagodas’ land. Their willing of participation has been respectable. With this knowledge, we set out the land policy for them in the area (Run Ta Ek Development Village). The people who settled along the Siem Reap River, the Royal Government has provided them land for them to live in as their property.
I would like to ask the Siem Reap provincial authorities, as well as the working team for Siem Reap to continue to pay attention to the lives of those people […], this land along the river is state land and the area prohibits the construction of small and large buildings. When they volunteer to live there, we also have to facilitate their way of life. If there is a lack of schools there, we also need to build more schools for them. In the past, their children studied in the city (Siem Reap), but now, though it is not far from the city, if there is a need, we have to build a school […] increase the capacity for the children of our people to get an education.
Royal Government Financed Sewer System for 12,999 Households
Returning to talking about people in the city (of Siem Reap), some houses that stands beyond the limit and construction right, are willing to settle, and pull it back in solving the problem themselves. Let me again take this opportunity to thank all the people for their cooperation. We are involved also in solving problems with the people. Previously, we agreed that the RGC would only be responsible for the drainage system along the roads and people would have to be responsible for own wastewater to the street drainage. As the people of Siem Reap suffered from a serious Covid-19 infection that affected their income, Samdech Pichey Sena Tea Banh asked me for more money. We paid for the connection (of drainage system).
According to HE Sun Chanthol, there were 2,000 families who gave money to the Royal Government (to connect the sewer system), but we returned the money to him. There are 12,999 families in total. The remaining 10,000 families (who had not yet paid for sewerage connection) will receive coverage funding from the RGC. If we give money to the 10,000 families, what would the person who already paid to connect (sewer system) do? There is only one way to do. We had to get the money back to them so that it is fair […] what makes me even happier is that the sewage that connects more than 12,000 households to main drainage are all underground.
Fruits of Peace and Socio-Economic Development – a Force for National Development
We also set up a parking lot in front of the house. I rode (in a car) and observed the parking lot in front of the people’s house. I saw a car parked there and there was a sign on the front of the house. That evening we saw some cars parked in front of the house. I can still imagine in the past our country had a bicycle parked in front of the house. Next, there is a motorbike parked in front of the house. Now is not the time to put bikes and motorcycles in front of the house and in that area, there is a car park in front of the house. The situation has changed drastically since we left the Pol Pot regime. At a time when we are both at peace and at war, and when we are at peace, our nation’s economic growth is improving with the well-being of the people.
What did we have in 1979? What do we have so far? That some people used the language that “the more we do, the poorer people are” is it appropriate really to the reality? In 1979, I could not find shoes to wear. Then in the 1980s there were bicycles, there were motorbikes, now there are cars that they needed to spend money to build a parking lot in front of the houses. That is the point where we must see that this comes from the fruits of peace, from the fruits of socio-economic development, that we, both the state and the people, can create a strong force for the development of the nation. The state has the ability to invest, and people to contribute […] previously, it was thought that the people would contribute together to build the place, but due to the declining income during the Covid-19 time, and to speed up the construction of this road, there was no better option than to give them money.
I still remember Samdech Pichey Sena’s explanation to me, after which I ordered the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance, HE Aun Porn Moniroth to release the emergency budget to start implementing the connection (sewerage system) from the people’s houses to the main drainage and set up the parking lot. I saw for myself that cars parked neatly in front of their houses yesterday. The Ministry of the Royal Palace is renovating this area in parallel with the time we are building the infrastructure. Now the garden area in front of the Royal Palace improved, and the situation is much better altogether.
The Siem Reap River, a Protected Area, Conditions of Cultural Heritage Respected
I am pleased with all the efforts made and would like to point out that in Siem Reap, those who commit immorality or theft should stop because there is a full security camera service. Do not think that sometimes you destroy a security camera and think that they cannot find you. This system connects continuously to one another. I hope the safety of our people in Siem Reap is guaranteed through more modern technical equipment that enables the competent forces, especially the National Police, to control the situation at all times.
On this occasion, I would like to thank the technicians for maintaining the best of the old infrastructure, as well as the new infrastructure, including the Siem Reap River. Please note, compatriots can sometimes ask a question why not build a concrete embankment along the river of Siem Reap. There may be some people asking us such questions […] we can afford to build concrete embankments. We made ones along some parts of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers […]
Please note that this is a protected area. We must comply with the conditions of the cultural heritage. We moved people from the banks of the Siem Reap River where we could plant trees or have benches for people to sit and spend their leisure time, but we could not pour concrete on the shore. That is the part related to heritage. The question here, I should explain, since some people may say why we did not concretize the embankments […] that we could, but the conservation techniques do not allow us to do so. We must continue to take care of the Siem Reap River naturally […]
Ten More Years with ICC Angkor (France & Japan) and UNESCO
I would also like to take this opportunity to clarify a bit. We should thank the ICC Angkor for its involvement in the conservation of Siem Reap, as well as the preservation of its historical heritage, Angkor Wat. We thank France and Japan, the co-chairs of the ICC, together with UNESCO, for being here as always and using the tripartite mechanism with Cambodia as the host country, plus the two co-chairs, France and Japan (for conservation work). We still have another important partner, UNESCO. We have a tripartite cooperation mechanism and a quadruple cooperation. On this note, I should say to our people who live in Siem Reap to continue to maintain order in accordance with the principles that protect the historical heritage.
Siem Reap has many temples that we must respect. Land acquisition for the airport has to find a location and not to touch heritage sites. It has been 30 years now. According to (Minister of Culture and Fine Arts) Lok Chumteav Pheung Sakona, we will sign an agreement to continue working with ICC Angkor with the participation of France and Japan, plus UNESCO for the next 10 years. It is rare for a commission that is already 30 years old to add another 10 years to join us in conserving the temples here. I would like to thank our partners – France and Japan, and UNESCO, for their continued cooperation in the region. ICC Angkor is also responsible for participating in the conservation and monitoring of the development of another heritage site at Sambo Prey Kuk in Kampong Thom province.
Ancestral Treasures Preserved and Respected
I would also like to take this opportunity to say a few words to real estate investors who have previously commented (on issue relating to land property in certain areas of Siem Reap). I think they were wrong. Someone worded that property market in Siem Reap could not develop due to the obstruction by the authorities regarding height of buildings. I would like to emphasize that one cannot compare the real estate market in Siem Reap to those in other provinces. If we do that […] Angkor Wat will be off the World Heritage list. I am calling on the real estate marketer look at the whole forest, not a single tree […] this has not happened in Cambodia yet, but it has happened in other countries. Even developed countries that violate UNESCO technical requirements removed from the World Heritage list. Cambodia, too, if we violate the conditions set by UNESCO, we will lose our World Heritage status at Angkor Wat, at Sambo Prey Kuk and at the Temple of Preah Vihear.
We are preparing documents for accession of some other sites to the World Heritage list. There is no shortage of places for real estate, but do not come close to Angkor. One company has announced that it will make a pond bigger. Hearing of intention to enlarge and deepen the pond, UNESCO reacted […] I asked the company to correct immediately […] Dr. Kim Heang, guru of real estate, please do not continue to criticize the authorities working here […] at that time, the first reaction came from Dr. Sok Touch, President of the Royal Academy, and then (Hun) Many. The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, which represents the Apsara Authority, who controls over the Apsara Authority, also sounds out its reaction […]
I urge international organizations – UNESCO as well as partner countries to agree to co-chair the ICC, namely Japan and France, who are now ready to sign for another 10 years, to have no hesitation. This is the assertion of the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia to ensure that the ancestral property that we strive to preserve from the past to the present is always in respect. Not only do we respect Angkor Wat, we respect the infrastructure left from the ancient time along the roads. We did not cause damages and had not been naïve to remove existing things and put in new ones. Harmonize things that are old and new will serve for the development of Siem Reap.
I should emphasize this point to ensure that there is no violation of the requirements of UNESCO, such as criticizing the authorities for not developing, not allowing construction in height. The area allows no skyscrapers. There has area where they allow skyscraper building but in prohibited area, we are strict to allow no high buildings. Therefore, the price of land in that place does not go up. Do not think for a moment only about the rise in land prices, and forget the loss of the historical heritage of Angkor temples. I want to say this in general to demand abiding by the conditions set by UNESCO.
April 4, 52 years ago, Entered the Marquis on Call of Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk
Thank you very much, Samdech Pichey Sena Tea Banh also wished me well on my birthday. I am also receiving blessings and wishes from the King, from Luang Mae, from my compatriots, as well as from the Buddhist monks to me. Today is my birthday. I have confirmed, however, that my actual birthday is on August 5. It came from the lunar calendar’s date – Tuesday, the month of Srap, the year of Dragon, in 1952. As to why I celebrate the birthday on April 4, 1951, I have already explained. Today, if we look back 52 years ago, this morning I went to the Marquis to register for the army in response to the call of Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk on March 23, 1970, for his children to turn in to the Marquis to fight. That I went there, I could not take anything and forgot about my birthday, I use April 4 as my birthday. This was what happened 52 years ago, on April 4, when our country fell into the beginning of the civil war after the March 18, 1970 coup. I would like to thank my compatriots for blessing me. Greetings are more than curses, but curses are not certain to fall on Hun Sen. If the zodiac sign is not good, the person who cursed may die or something bad happens before Hun Sen. That is something one must learn to believe.
Temples Spirits Protect from Premeditated Life Attempt on September 24, 1998
(There had been an attempt on my life) when they set four B-40 grenades on my convoy in Siem Reap, and only one exploded. The other three did not explode. I thank the sacred objects governing the city of Siem Reap, as well as the temples spirits that saved my life on September 24, 1998. That gave me time to accomplish the historic mission of ending the war, bringing about territorial unity, and national unity. For the first time in the history of Cambodia, through win-win politics, it was also an opportunity for me to lead the Kingdom of Cambodia to develop from one stage to another, where so far, we have guaranteed the lives of the people.
What I must continue to do with my compatriots is to keep the peace. When there is peace, we must maintain it. Peace is hard to find. A war can happen in just 15 minutes, after issuing a command. Ending the war is difficult, though. In ASEAN, some countries still have armed resistances. Cambodia, divided into different areas of control in the past, has come agreement by different armed forces. I have already said that before 1970 we had up to four different armed groups, the Khmer Rouge, the Khmer Blue, the Khmer White, the three of which are all armed groups.
The Khmer Rouge was scattered throughout Cambodia, the Khmer White hid themselves along the Cambodian-Vietnamese border, the Khmer Blue on the Cambodian-Thai border, and the Khmer government, the popular socialist government. From 1970 to 1975, our country was divided into two parts – Lon Nol-controlled area and the liberated area of the Cambodian National United Front led by Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk […] Cambodia has two areas of controls. From 1975 to 1979, we fell into the genocidal regime of Pol Pot. Even though Pol Pot was very strong, they could not completely control the territory. There were still armed movements.
Win-Win Politics Brings About National/Territorial Unification and Peace
Cases like the one in Koh Kong (the resistance movement) in the northeast, the rebellion in the east, and my own forces. Thus, despite the brutality, Pol Pot could not completely control the territory. We ended up overthrowing the genocidal regime of Pol Pot, but then our country became one with four territories. The first area controlled by the Government of the People’s Republic of Cambodia, later renamed the State of Cambodia. The other region ruled by a tripartite coalition government, dominated by different armed forces – Khmer Rouge area, FUNCINPEC area, Khmer People’s Liberation Front area. From 1979 to 1993, Cambodia had four territories.
From 1993 to 1998, Cambodia had two areas of controls under two governments – those implementing the Paris Agreement governing most of the territory, and the Khmer Rouge who still had government, and control along the Thai-Cambodian border and a few areas inland – Takaen Koh Sla in Kampot and Takeo, Oral in Kampong Speu and some pockets of Tonle Sap. Under a win-win policy, we have made our nation united, our territory unified for the first time in our history. It is difficult to find this peace. (Trading) life for peace is very fragile, especially if there were no sincere participation of different armed groups. That is why we continue to say that it is a hard-earned peace.
The instigator of the war was Lon Nol, who decided to stage a coup to overthrow Prince Norodom Sihanouk in just a few minutes. We ended the war in 1998. Millions died. Therefore, when there is peace, it is necessary to maintain peace, and do not wait until the war started to shout for peace. The threat of war in Ukraine (causing) Europe raising concerns about peace and stability (and they are under pressure) from millions of refugees. During the time of our war, we also had Cambodian brothers and sisters fleeing abroad through Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and there were people displaced in the country to flee from war zone, even in times of war and peace […] our nation is at peace now. We must continue to protect it. Without peace, it is impossible to talk about development or to talk about democracy and human rights.
I would like to thank the people as well as the leaders of the Cambodian People’s Party for supporting efforts to bring the country out of war and to peace. Through that peace, we have been able to build our roads and other needs step after step. I sincerely hope that with what has been done in the country for the future, our compatriots, regardless of party affiliation, must maintain peace. Those who destroy peace must not be tolerated because whenever peace is destroyed, many people die. In this sense, in order to save the lives of millions of people, do not be afraid to destroy those who destroy peace […] this is not a warning to anyone. It is to clarify the need for peace for the country […]
Discussing Income Milestone of Cambodians
I am grateful for the opportunity given to me for more than 40 years that I have joined the leadership of the CPP and other political parties for development, peace and national reconciliation, and socio-economic development. Of course, there is more works to do. We do not do just that. Discussions are now underway on issues related to the (income) milestones – either 2011 or 2014. (For) the correction here, they have found that the average income per capita for the population will exceed 2000 (US dollars) on average (in 2014) but if however, one takes the milestone in 2011, the average per capita income of the people is only 1,700 dollars.
Of course, when we are to take the new milestone, it will cause us to miss out some opportunities to attract foreign capital (because) loans (have) higher interest rates since the country approaches the stage of a high middle-income country. We are at a stage that they consider us a low-middle-income country and for that, we still enjoy favorable foreign borrowing through concessional interest rates. If per capita income goes high up, we will lose the opportunity to get concessional interest (and will) get (loan) in commercial interest. We are considering this. However, it is more accurate to take real facts to reflect the increase in people’s income.
High-Speed Rail and Road from Siem Reap to Battambang in Consideration
We are also considering whether, or not, to replace the existing rail infrastructure, which is an outdated system that travels only 20 or 30 kilometers per hour with a high-speed rail in both directions. With more arrangements, it will be a rail line for domestic transport and connections with neighboring countries. We now have two-way trains from Poipet to Phnom Penh and from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville. We are considering this and looking for a partner to build a high-speed rail line on the old railway line. Therefore, I am asking His Excellency Sun Chanthol to consider and propose a project to find a partner. If we leave our railway to go on like this, there will not be progress.
We cannot keep abreast with the situation. We also have to work on some infrastructures, like, we need to prepare the road that connects Siem Reap with Battambang by crossing the Tonle Sap, from Siem Reap at Sasar Sadom to Battambang at Otaki area – more than 70 kilometers. We are studying and finding construction funds. There is still a lot of works that we have to respond to the needs of the people […]
Will Try to Stop Use of Masks in One or Two Provinces
I am not testing people, but I want to know when we open up opportunities for travel from one area to another and we are going to try and allow dancing to see if the pandemic is gone or still there. This is not something that some may say I use people to test. Even if we prevent it, it will be difficult. Karaoke in Phnom Penh, I let the agent in to see. No one was wearing a mask, […] I am thinking that at some point it will be possible to use the method of stopping the use of masks in one or two provinces to try out […]
Suppose one province, takes Preah Vihear, for instance, let us walk in that province without wearing a mask. If you leave that province and enter the territory of Siem Reap or Oddar Meanchey, you must wear a mask. If we exclude both Oddar Meanchey and Preah Vihear, when crossing from Preah Vihear to Oddar Meanchey does not need to wear a mask […] some countries have already lifted the ban on wearing masks in public places at a time when people are seriously ill […]
I am very thankful to the people for the measures we have taken and achieved, because even though there is a vaccine, if the people refuse to get vaccinated, it will still not succeed. Our people are having vaccination, despite the fear that some people from some groups frightened them that vaccination will kill them. In the end, this vaccine has saved the lives of Cambodians […]./.