It is my pleasure to be in the province of Preah Vihear once again. I am well aware that my wife came here before me on February 23 2011 to visit and distribute basic materials to help our displaced people deal with their primary needs while moving away from war area. I also learnt that my daughter also came here to preside over the construction of a hospital. Though I am the latest one among them to come, it is still a great chance that we also meet here in this place to put into official use two important national roads.
I am also asking for your understanding for the fact that I was not punctual in coming here because of the weather condition that prolonged my flight by helicopter despite I had made it very early to start the flight. In addition to that, I also have to visit my father everyday to check for his health’s update.
Today we have two roads of 144 km in total length to be put into official use. The first road – National Road 62 – is 110 Km which will be running from the city of Tbeng Meanjei of Preah Vihear province to the foothill of Preah Vihear Mountain. The second road – Road 210, is 34 Km runs between the Village of Thnol Bot and the temple of Srayang Koh Ker. I may have your attention that the groundbreaking ceremony to build the two roads was organized on April 5, 2008, which then Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jin Feng and I were presiding together.
As is reported by HE Tram Iv Toeuk, Minister for Transports and Public Works, the two roads will definitely facilitate traffic from the city of Tbeng Meanjei to the foothill of Preah Vihear Mountain. As we have yet to complete the project, the two figures – one provided by the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the other by the Ministry of Transports and Public Works – are not yet identical.
The project costs up to 71.7 million USD, of which over 56 million USD is loaned from the People’s Republic of China, 15 million USD is the counterpart fund provided by the Royal Government – used in de-mining and resolving other projects impacts, etc. Though we have improved our road condition between the city of Tbeng Meanjei and the foothill of Preah Vihear Mountain, it is still our effort to improve the segment of the NR 62 between Kompong Thom and the city of Tbeng Meanjei. It would not take long as the construction of the 128 Km road is in full progress too. As of now, out of 128 Km, only 30 Km more needs to be paved before the segment is completed.
Though Preah Vihear is part of the mainland but it was considered kind of island. How was it so? The area was not accessible for security reason. Now that the country is reunited, the (for Khmer Rouge) Generals like Ee Chhien, Pen Voi and Yim Pim, no longer hide in the forest and chop trees to lay across the streets to prevent entrance to and exit from their strongholds. You may learn that the United Nations Transitional Authority for Cambodia (UNTAC) forces also dared not enter their zones.
It is in that remembrance of those facts that I urge all not to make war or to play with war as it will not lead to a real win situation. All will come to lose-lose situation. As we have ended war so far, the whole country is in win-win situation. A simple question could be asked if it is possible for us to build this road should the war persist. I used to mention about my age and reason for involvement in the war. I was 18 and Ee Chhien (currently Governor of Pailin province) and Yim Pim (a General) were around my age. Pim was shot at his leg when he joined the demonstration in 1970 to support Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk.
As you all know that for those living in Preah Vihear province, not to mention travelling from Tbeng Meanjei to the foothill of Preah Vihear Mountain, the trip between Preah Vihear’s Tbeng Meanjei to Kompong Thom province, before getting on to Phnom Penh, was also terrible. It took the trip up to two days due to road conditions but also for security reason. As we now have a durable peace, everyone and everywhere is reaping win-win situation benefit. We have the ability to reintegrate every part of the whole country.
It is in this note that I always affirm that we have to keep the peace that we attained with difficulty. For our country’s existence, let’s make no war but maintain peace and national reconciliation so that we are able to build our country.
It is totally contrasting to what I said earlier about travelling between Phnom Penh and Preah Vihear then and these days. While road condition and security precaution stole three or four times of the journey, now travelling between the two destinations would require only a sum of five hours or even less. If it was an island on the mainland before, let’s find out if it is still so. A sister who shook my hands upon my arrival said with joy “Preah Vihear is making new changes under Samdech Techo”. It is indeed so as Preah Vihear is no longer a landlocked area or in a state of island in the mainland as before.
Preah Vihear was inaccessible for reasons of road condition and security. That is why there was a short poem that goes “the soil of Preah Vihear is sticky, one might go or come as one pleases, but s/he never want to repeat the journey.” It is now a different issue. It is a change. People of Preah Vihear could travel to Phnom Penh anytime they wish to, and so could people in Phnom Penh. According to the Royal Government’s plan, Preah Vihear province will benefit from more roads to be constructed.
From Preah Vihear province now, people could travel in four different directions. Firstly, people in Preah Vihear could travel in the National Road 62 through to the NR 6 which runs through Kompong Thom province. People also could travel from Srayang Kohker to get to the NR 62 and on. Thirdly, people could travel in NR 67 and NR 6 –Anlong Veng and Banteay Srey, and fourthly, people could take the road from Samraong Jongkal to Anlong Veng, which HE Tram Iv Toek told me the pavement is almost complate, and on with the same road connection as option three.
I wish to inform our people that there is another road – the NR 64 to be – which is 141 Km that will run from Preah Vihear province to Stoeung Treng province. We will build another bridge across the Mekong River, which I hope we will have a signing ceremony to secure funding for the construction in 2012. With these roads in place, the people of Preah Vihear are no longer living in an isolated place or inaccessible land. Since the 2011 nasty flood damaged various parts of the NR 64, I instructed General Kun Kim to discuss with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon to figure out the possibility to rebuild it.
This shall make a thorough connection between Phnom Penh to Preah Vhihear’s Tbeng Meanjei from the NR 6 through the NR 62 and then from Tbeng Meanjei to Stengtreng province’s Thala Borovat through the NR 64. This also connects the northern part and the northwestern part of the country through to the northeastern part. From Thala Borivat, travelers could then continue on NR 7 to Phnom Penh, to the border with Laos, to the border with Vietnam at O Yadao through the NR 78, or other directions they may wish to.
There is one more connection, the 132 km NR 76, between Ratanakiri’s Lunphat and Mondulkiri province’s Sen Monorom city through the district of Koh Nhek. Again from Sen Monorom city, travelers could go on to NR 7 to Snuol at Kratie province. This will be called the eastern corridor. As what I have said we will link up by road the provinces of Preah Vihear to Stoeng Treng, to Ratanakiri, to Mondulkiri, to Kratie and to Kompong Cham. As you can see with these roads in place, travelers no longer have to travel back and forth between the above provinces. Before, while in Mondulkiri province, to get to Ratanakiri one had to come down to Snuol on NR 7 before going up again to Ratanakiri. The NR 76 could be ready by 2015.
Now that the north and northwest are connected to the northeast, how do we link this area back to the northwest? We have built a road link from the Preah Vihear area through Tropeang Prasat, to Anlong Veng, to Siem Reap and to Jong Kal via the NR 67 and 68. The remaining segment that our people are asking about is the NR 56 (from Banteay Meanjei’s Svay Sisophon city to Samraong city of Oddar Meanjei province). I could not intervene as it is the fund to be provided by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Republic of Korea. I would suggest that ADB launch the construction before as soon as possible as.
Also to the northwest corridor, we have a segment between Koun Damrey, Mealay, Komrieng, Phnom Proek and Pailin which is under construction. Also under constructions were the NR 57 and 57B between Thmor Kuol, Bovel, Phnom Proek, Sampeo Loun and the border with Thailand. As for the southwestern corridor, we just inaugurated the NR 3 and launched the constructions of NR 31, 32, 33 and 117. We also have more roads to the sea – NR 2, NR 3, NR 41 from the NR 4 through to Kompot’s Jumkiri. A sea corridor from the border with Vietnam at Prek Jak to Kompot through NR 3, and through Tropeang Ropeo to NR 4 is already in operation. From the NR 4 we have the NR 48 which links to Koh Kong province.
We are now looking for funding to build the NR 55 which is running from Pursath province to Thmor Da, from where there could be a possibility to build a trunk road to Koh Kong province. As for the eastern part of the country, we have the NR 1 and NR 8. All these are what we have achieved in time of peace. We make and preserve peace, de-mine while build roads and pave them from one place to another. I wish you all see that it is a great effort to reduce poverty or you could define it to be a difficulty reduction one. This is also a way to equitably distribute the fruit of economic growth.
Now everyone can see at least that we have made great efforts to reduce the gap between the rich and poor by means of improving rural infrastructures and their education. For every road we build is for everyone to use and benefit from it. Schools have been built in all parts of the country. Urban as well as rural children are going to school. This is what I am sure is the most effective way to reduce the gap and to accomplish poverty reduction in our country. We do not buy Pol Pot’s idea and ideology of transforming the rich to be poor to close the gap between the two at all. We are of the opinion that the rich can be en engine of economic growth.
Though Chinese socialism is led by the Communist Party, the Chinese economy is a free market one. There are more and more rich people now in China and they could generate growth in the Chinese economy. Our Chinese friend has just mentioned that there are about 100 million Chinese still living in poverty. If we make a calculation, 100 million out of 1,300 million population is about 7.6% only. However, China has got an ability to help us and even to help European economy.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation and thanks on behalf of the people of Cambodia to the people and Government of the People’s Republic of China for all the projects that they have supported and provided with funding to the Royal Government of Cambodia either in forms of grant, loan with non-interest or concessional loan, as well as those Chinese companies that make investments in Cambodia.
In time of flood, among early assistance providers, China started with medical supply emergency assistance which cost roughly 8 million USD. From my meeting with Premier Wen Jiabao, the PRC provides Cambodia 1.5 million USD more, which we use to buy rice to secure our food stock in case of food scarcity situation. With financial assistance of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of three million Yuan, we obtain some three hundred pulled tractors.
I thank the Shanghai Construction General Company as well as the Guangchou Wanan Construction Supervision, Co. Ltd. for shaping up this marvelous achievement. We are anticipating the forthcoming completion of the southern segment of the NR 62, as we now are celebrating the inauguration of the northern segment. I thank the Ministry of Transports and Public Works and the Ministry of Economy and Finance as well as other concerned agencies for the efforts and assistance to make this construction a successful story. I understand that we all take part because we all see that they are our roads.
As we now have good road, we can improve a great deal of circulation and transportation of tourists, goods as well as defense materials. As a matter of fact, we have stationed a large amount of our troops in this part of the country. How could we not do so if we have a (border) problem in this part of our country? We have in the military region IV two divisions, two independent brigades 41 and 42 under the supervision of the military region infantry. Included in these divisions are infantry, air defense, armored and artillery forces combined. We also have in area local forces of Preah Vihear, Uddar Meanjei and other intervention forces.
The border situation seems to be calm now. Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs HE Hor Nam Hong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense HE Tia Banh, Military Police Chief Sao Sokha, other officials, including also my son, went to Thailand to join the wedding ceremony of HE Thanksin Shinawatra’s daughter. Thaksin called me from Singapore that he could only observe the wedding from afar as he cannot enter Thailand. Well, this is personal relation. However, country-to-country situation also seems to improve. We are making efforts to make our border the one of peace, cooperation and development.
As I am here, please allow me to have a few words with all army commanders. When I was here to inaugurate the division III on February 6, 2009, I left you all with words to protect our forest intact. As of now the situation of logging seems to have rampaged into Thailand, not just on our side. Many Cambodians infiltrated and logged on the Thai side. Most of them crossed into Thailand in Uddar Meanjei province. It has been reported that there does not seem to be many (of that case) at the Preah Vihear area. However, I would seek a definite stop to this by all means.
I would seek your help to look after this matter. I also heard that in the province of Mondulkiri, illegal logging is also on the increase. I ask that the dossier be transferred to Phnom Penh. I heard, HE Chan Sarun may confirm, that the issue involves also children of some provicial officials. The rogue elements involved in illegal logging and trafficking, as is revealed by the media, used modern vehicles, such as Lexus four wheel drive, to transport precious hardwoods. There is also a case that the petrol truck disguised under the Red Cross emblem also involved in trafficking precious hardwoods as well.
It is in this concern I am seeking our military units to quickly report, and we will keep you identity safe and undisclosed, to competent authorities, especially to me or to the anti-graft committee on whom, in whatever rank s/he may carry, might involve in this business. We are doing this to protect the good name of our military from a few bad ones./.