Above, Ground and Underground Level Roads

HE Kep Chuktema – the Governor of Phnom Penh just recalled what I said at the time when we put into official use the first overpass at Kbal Thnal. I could remember saying that when there is the first, there will be the second and the third to come. We first built the Kbal Thnal overpass, then the 7-January overpass at the Pet Loksang junction. Now we have permitted the construction of the overpass at the Stoeng Meajei junction. We talk of this achievement that some people blamed us for talking too much about it. They even said that overpass as such there are hundreds of them in so and so countries. I even rebuked that we are talking about it a lot because we have only one. The overpass at Kbal Thnal is the first of its kind in our country. We will talk no more when we have twenty or thrity of them.

In one of my visits in 2004 to Chong Qing of the People’s Republic of China, there is an iron bridge built in the 1960s over the Yangtse River. We could understand that China just had that bridge in 1960s. China also talked a lot about it. Now they talk about it no more because in Shanghai, from the airport to the city, traveling will be mostly on overpasses. Now China no longer talks about overpasses because they have more than they can count already. Now we have the third one built and it is uinique in its design because it has three levels of traveling lanes – one that runs over, one on ground level and another in the underground level. For the previous two overpasses, we have one above and one ground one. Some people might come out and say there is also undersea lane in so and so country. We will be there, maybe in our younger generation.

On behalf of the people of Phnom Penh, I would like to thank HE Kep Chuktema, Governor of Phnom Penh, as well as councilors and members of the governing council of Phnom Penh and concerned Khans, together with technical team, for conducting a thorough technical study to resolve issues and impacts for residents in projected area, drainage and electric poles.

From Bare Hands to Overpass

I am so proud that from bare hands and ghost city we have come this far. If we were to look back a bit or watch old documentaries, we would see that in 1979 and many years later there need not to have overpasses as we do now. Even in the street itself, there were sections where people can sleep for a week without any car to disturb them. Now Phnom Penh city is a city of heavy traffick. Now we are wondering if the tricycles would be obsolete. This is something we shoud conserve to. In France, there are horse carts for tourists around the parks. We have comed this far in frop-leap pace. Our people also are rising gradually slowly. I first met only 70 people in Phnom Penh somewhere near the Canadia Park and most of them were kids and women … According to the statistics, we have roughly one million cars and one million motorcycles. It is quite something when they all are in the street at the same time.

With the overpasses at Kbal Thnal and Pet Loksang junctions, we have a better hand in managing the traffic there. Now we are building another one at the Stoeng Meanjei junction, which is also very important. Traveling to and from between Takeo, Kompot and Phnom Penh, would need to go through this road. The third overpass is indeed bigger and definitely costs more – 19 million USD and will be ready in 28 months. Having said all this, please allow me to beg our people who are living in and near the project sites for understanding as within this period of construction, the traffic condition and living environment will be worse. We are anticipating a durable solution in 2015.

In efforts to resolve the traffic growth, we have either put in place or built the Monivong Bridge Thmei, the second Jroy Janvar bridge, the bridge of Prek Pnov, the bridge of Prek Kadam, and are planning another bridge somewhere between the bridge of Jroy Jangva and Prek Pnov across the river of Tonle Sap to Jroy Jangva. We already have the bridge of Ta Khmao under construction and another one at downstream Koh Thom town.

I am so grateful to the oversea Cambodian company, which is well-known for their projects that built the overpass at Kbal Thnal and the overpass at the Pet Lok Sang junction. We spent 6,440,000 USD for the Kbal Thnal overpass and 8,700,000 USD for the 7-January overpass. The construction of the new Monivong Bridge cost 10 million USD, which was derived from the Koh Pij investment project. Now we have another satellite city project at Jroy Jangva, from which we have derived some 19 million USD for resolving the impacts of the project of overpass at Stoeng Meanjei junction. Together we have spent 22 million USD on project’s impacts. There is no other way but to take this option or we will continue to have traffic jam in this area.

Affected Residents Accept Overpass’s Compensations

I am so happy and thank our people very much that they have a great understanding, especially those who have to bear impacts – more or less – from the project (of building the Stoeng Meanjei overpasses). The compensation has already recorded a sum of three million USD already. That is a requirement for development. I appreciate it that our people understand and accept the compensation provided by the project. In some country, in order to prevent their people from buying more cars, they order people to buy their rights to own a car first.

As the right to own the car is valid only for five years, after this specified period, people will have to pay again in order to maintain their rights to purchase a car. In Cambodia people make money, save them and purchase motorbike or car as they wish to. I do not know when we will have that kind of tax enforcement but let’s keep it for the younger generation to decide as we may have gone to a different world by then.

However I thank everyone involved in the construction of Phnom Penh and Cambodia as a whole. The 50 + 50 formula, which the state pays half and the the people pays the other half has brought the city of Phnom Penh to no longer having dirt roads/streets. The people from different political parties have also made their contributions for the betterment of infrastructural in Phnom Penh.

I wish that we all see the truth and refrain from lying to oneself, not to other people. In just days we will come to the celebration of the 34th anniversary of January 7 – the day of liberation of Cambodia from the genocide. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks for elder sister Di Savet who used to be our best star in the 1950s, who, in her interview with the CNC TV, said she has got a heart, two ears and two eyes and she coud make sense of what is going on. She went to live in France and years later I saw her on local TV. She came back to help Cambodian new generation who pick up performance art careers. No one would hold his/her tears watching her movies in the old day. Well, let’s not lie to own self. Some people who deny the truth also has a full recollection that s/he was walking without slippers on in 1979 but is driving or sitting now in either Landcruiser or Lexus cars and living in modern apartment as well.

Chairing ASEAN Altogether

Once again I would like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to the people, Buddhist monks who live in Phnom Penh for their heartfelt participations in together hosting the ASEAN Summit, related summits and EAS Summit – once in April and again in November this year. That has showed the dignity of our people as hosting country of ASEAN. I have said many times that hosting and chairing ASEAN Summit and related summits is not my task alone but that of the whole people of Cambodia. People clearly cooperated and the meetings went on without interuption from traffic or other problems at all. Our armed forces, with close cooperation from the people, have guaranteed the safety and security for world leaders.

I thank the Cambodian armed forces, especially the Phnom Penh Municipality and Khans under it, for the excellent jobs they have performed for the honor and dignity of our country. Cambodia’s dignity and prestige has risen to a new level. We have provided better facility for the summits and guests compared to the year 2002 that we hosted the first event for ASEAN. I would not know who will host the ASEAN Summit in 2022 (in Cambodia) as I will turn 70 by then. If any political party wins the task, they have full liberty to hold it their ways. Cambodia is a pluralistic country. We have general elections once in every five years.

No Boat Race, Progress on Crematory Construction

However, I have to express my sincere thanks for the people who had to be patient with some traffic congestion and for the 19 schools that had to close for the same period of the meeting so as to evade the possibility of having more traffic in the roads. I also appreciate your understanding for the fact that the Royal Government has cancelled the boat racing ceremony which is a part of the water festival from November 27 through to 29. We did the same last year due to flood emergency. This year’s cancellation is because we are mourning over the death of Samdech Norodom Sihanouk, who is still lying in state in the Royal Palace. On November 28, we will have a ceremony to present the late Majesty the post-mortem title – Preah Borom Ratanak Kaod.

The next day, HM the King and Samdech Preah Meada, the Queen-Mother, senior Buddhist monks and high-ranking Royal Government leaders will go to observe the progress of building crematory in the Veal Preah Meru field. Though the cremation will be on the fourth of February, the Preah Borom Ratanak Kaod will be moved to the crematory on the 1st of February. More closure of roads will be necessary. The Royal Government is in review of the appropriate new mourning period for the Preah Borom Ratanak Kaod.

Poltically Intriguing Involvement in Land Measuring and Titlings

I have one thing to clarify regarding what I said in Preah Vihear, which might lead to misinterpretation. I said we would not have solution for any land issues where political parties or non-govenrmental organization may want to exploit politically from. I wish to underline that what I wanted to say is to allow no one to take political advantage from the intrigue on this issue. If the political parties and/or non-governmental organizations wish to involve with pure intention, they could still do so. For instance I have administered HE Yim Chhay Ly, Deputy Prime Minister, to participate in the NGO administered meeting in relation to the issue of land and natural resources management.

What I have as concern is that some would like to make small issue more complicated and worse, like the issue that happened here in Preah Vohear province. Some people have been tricked to give their thumbprints as proof on land issues. When the authority demands that they show their thumbprints, they said they were told to give thumbprints for a different issue – like requesting for relief assistance. Sometimes it is the case that the person’s name is not the person’s thumbprint too. Faking other people’s names for their thumbprints could be a serious court matter. It is in this light that I must certify that that is not an evasion of responsibility but for land cases of politically intriguing involvement, I would not involve as I do not see how that could be resolved.

However, we welcome anyone with pure intention to come up with idea on how to resolve the issue. No political gain should be attached to any request for involvement because this would not bring the matter to solution. I am sure there are also NGOs with pure intention to help defend the people and their land right from being abused by local authorities or powerful men. It is inevitable that people would seek help from NGOs when they cannot have intervention of the authorities. Having clarified this matter I would advise “why try to break in while the door is wide open.” So what I meant about political involvements in resolving land issue by political or non-governmental organization is that they would work out for their political gains or expansion of conflict rather than preventing or resolving them once and for all.

I think I have given sufficient message, including the clarification of my message on involvement in the resolution of land issues. While welcoming those opinion expressed, political instigation would not be a helpful solution to our problem. The fact that I send HE Yim Chhay Ly to the NGO administered meeting in relation to the issue of land and natural resources management has indeed shown the Royal Government’s committed partnership to the non-governmental organization and for the problem to be resolved from head to toe. We could not allow the issue of land to become, because of politcal instigation or politically intriguing involvement, a source of conflict between one group to another group of people at all.

This Stoeng Meanjei junction project is in fact going to serve our purpose of resolving the traffic problem that is normally caused by traffic lines from three different areas – Khan Meanjei, Jamka Mon and Tuol Kork. It is indeed a triangular traffic convergence point. It is situated at the border of the three Khans especially to resolve traffics from Sangkat Steong Meanjei of Khan Meanjei, Tumnub Toek of Khan Jamka Moon, Boeng Salang of Khan Tuol Kork. Let’s try and find a name for the overpass, maybe it is good already to have it named after Meanjei or Stoeng Meanjei as Meanjei means victory or success./.