… Last February 9, 2000 we celebrated the groundbreaking ceremony to build the four canals with the presence of HE Japanese Ambassador Masaki Saito. We then organized the ceremony at Canal Prek Takeo in Samraong Thom Commune of Srok Kiensvay. Today we organize the inauguration ceremony in Prek Chrey of Srok Kiensvay, which is seven kilometers from one another, with HE Gotaro Ogawa, the new Japanese Ambassador.
… I wish to place my apology to our people in this area as they have been waiting for the achievement to realize for so long. We have a force majeure that hindered the process of construction, which is supposed to be inaugurated originally in August 2001. But we learned that the flood in 2000 and 2001 did not let us have much time to fulfil our project and also caused damages to some of our works as well.
… I may say that the assistance provided by Japan to Cambodia is large in number, and a major part of them came to Kandal province. Just now HE Ambassador of Japan mentioned about the renovation of the National Road 1. Our people in Kiensvay could have remembered about a cabinet meeting in a bus between Phnom Penh and Loeuk Dek district. This segment of road took us in all four hours. The condition is in unimproved condition still. Let me inform about a trip to Tokyo in June 2001. I had a negotiation with the Government of Japan, in which so many road projects were proposed to the Japanese side. The Government of Japan decided to assist us in rebuilding the segment of the National Road 1 on the western bank of Neak Loeung. This project is connected with the ASEAN highway, which allows various country members to travel to Vietnam via Cambodia.
… As the Japanese experts are conducting studies on the renovation of the roads, let me warn that they have to take into consideration problem of unexploded ordinances. As we finished the construction of the four canals we have discovered 2,511 pieces of unexploded ordinances including a bomb from B52. This is not to frighten the Japanese away but to provide with information in advance on the local situation as they are taking their study. These unexploded ordinances were left not from the 1979 and 1998 war but between 1970 and 1975. The Royal Government from its part has an obligation to conduct a thorough study of places where there are or there not unexploded ordinances so that the construction process would be expedited once the decision has been made.
… Once I leaned that the road request has been accepted and conducted a study, I have proceeded further to request through HE Minister of Finance of Japan for a bridge over the Mekong River at Neak Loeung. If we were to build National Road 1 as highway, the Mekong River at Neak Loeung has to be bridged as well. We could not afford to operate the ferry any more. Whether Japan accepts or not the proposed request I have no idea but I have great hope in their positive judgement. Sometimes I feel ashamed to have requested our friend for help one after another but what I have done were not for my own sake but for the interest of our country and people. The point is whether we can ensure the effective use of their assistance or not…. Japan has reduced its assistance to foreign countries but maintained its status in terms of providing assistance to Cambodia. So I would like our people and Government officials to do whatever they can to effectively use their assistance like we have proven in the renovation of the four canals aimed at improving our local people’s living condition. If we could attain this success we would be able to attract more assistance to Cambodia. On the other hand if our people could not safeguard the construction and our people’s living standard worsen further, more assistance could not be expected as even member of the House of Representatives of Japan wold also question its Government about efficiency and effectiveness of their assistance to Cambodia. In this case the Government of Japan who initiates the provision of assistance to Cambodia would be in difficult position.
… Today HE Director of JICA would end his directorship in Cambodia. During his term he had delegated various projects. Though he is promoted to director of ASEAN and East Timor department, I would think he still has a good memory of Cambodia and remembers that Cambodia needs more canals of this kind. The person to take over his position is some one who knew Cambodia from 1960 and I am sure that with HE Ambassador who knows Cambodia very well, Japan would do more to help us. Today at 16:00 hours Japan will sign to provide a credit of Yen 2000 million for the rehabilitation of electric provision facilities in Siemreap town. So this morning we receive four canals of about Yen 1 billion and Yen 2 billion in the evening. The Consultative Group meeting is approaching and Cambodia is set to request for more.
… HE Director of JICA told me that Cambodia ranks sixth among 160 countries that Japan pays attention to. What I wish to mention here is that though this project of urgent rehabilitation of the National Road 1 is under the supervision of the Government, still the Ministry of Transports and Public Works both at the central and provincial levels have to take care of its condition. When I ask the provincial public works if we could renovate the road with our money, they said it is in the urgent rehabilitation project by the Asian Development Bank. So I wish the Ministry of Transports and Public Works to sign the deal as soon as possible so that provisional rehabilitation of the National Road 1 is taking place.
… What is concerned with the four canals was that once we have decided to build them, flood came right away. As our people could not collect their harvest down the stream, we have closed the water gate and they were able to do so and we let the gate open to let the water flow in with silt to fertilize the land area downstream. If the area downstream is in short of water we could place pumps along the river. Taking this opportunity I wish to thank the construction companies (Taise) for purchasing the Hun Sen pump to mount on these canals.
… Between 1995 and 1996 I have provided a certain amount of fund to the Directorate for Hydrology under the leadership of HE Lim Keanhor to invent and build the pump locally as it costs less than those imported from abroad. Now Japan purchases Hun Sen pump without having to fly in from Japan. We have about 30 pumps of this kind. They have been registered in the Ministry of Commerce and no one could steal the intellectual property rights. Later if Japan would want to bring in the pump to Cambodia they should let us produce the pump because the cost is cheaper. The pump costs US$ 48,000 if we were to purchase from Australia and we would produce the pump of the same quality for US$ 22,000 only. It could pump water from down 25 meters.
… Few days ago the Disaster Management Committee called on a meeting to come up with an annual plan. This year we have less rain and some places could not nurture their seedlings. When we have too much water we have a problem but now that with less water we also have a problem. We have yet to declare an emergency since we are today May 23. We have to get ready for immediate intervention. I think that in my second term as Prime Minister, the idea to establish two additional ministries – Water Resources and Meteorology and Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction – is correct and enjoying the support from the party in coalition. I think they would still be in existence in the next term. If we were to keep the Water Resources management at the level of department its intervention would not be adequate. Up to the present we have 2 million hectares for cultivation but only 16% is irrigated.