Fifth Visit to Am Lang

I am so glad to be able to return once again to the district of Tporng in the province of Kompong Speu. According to HE Say Chhum, the First Vice President of the Senate and the Head of the CPP working team to Kompong Speu province, I was here once in 1994 to accompany Samdech Ov (the late Preah Norodom Sihanouk) and Samdech Me to inaugurate the Junior Secondary School Anlung Jrey, Pram Bei Mum commune. I was here for the second time in 1996 to put into use the Primary School Japan-Cambodia Samraong, Monorom commune. My third time here was to put into official use the Secondary School of Anlung Jrey, Pram Bei Mum commune on February 14, 2008. I was here again on 9 April 2009 to inaugurate the Buddhist temple in the Samraong pagoda in the Monorom commune. Today is my fifth time here to inaugurate the white sugar factory in the area of Am Leang.

As I was looking from the helicopter, I see it is like a small city in itself. It is true that the factories and the adjacent areas have used more electricity than the provincial town of Ratanakiri, which is about 4 to 5 megawatt only. So this has transformed what was before a small village in the time of Lung Vek in the Cambodian history. In the course of trial of the former leaders of the Khmer Rouge such as the head of Tuol Sleng prison S21, there has so many background stories relating to tragedy in the Am Leang area before and after the Lon Nol coup and during the regime of Pol Pot. As Am Lang is bordering with Oral area, we have today people coming from the Oral district as well.

Am Lang – The Initiation of Win-Win Policy

I just met with Keo Pong, former chief of Khmer Rouge force in Am Leang area. He took part in the implementation of the Royal Government’s win-win policy that I put out and led the campaign myself. With the wholehearted support of the people, the war came to the end in Oral and Am Leang in particular and the Kingdom of Cambodia as a whole. Everywhere in Cambodia is reaping the benefit from the win-win policy and former battlefields are now becoming markets and development zones. Take for instance this place has turned from battlefield into a developed production area through the investment of the Phnom Penh Sugar company of Oknha Lyong Phat. As you can see one critical factor in attracting investment, inside or outside the country, is peace because without peace, there could not be development.

People in the age of forty and above could learn that after 1970 especially, what kind of development we had for the country. Talking about the sugar factory, under the popular socialist society of (the late) Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk we already had factories in Kompong Tram of Kompong Speu province, in Meh Mot of Kompong Cham and in Kompong Kul of Battambang province. As the coup happened, war raged throughout the country. We did not have time for development. We spent more time running than doing something real. The situation had come to total destruction under the Pol Pot’s regime.

However, after the implementation of the national reconciliation policy, partly through the Paris Peace Agreement, the win-win policy carried out by Cambodians end the war in 1998. I came to hand out the land titles to people in Oral district on November 14, a month ago. With Keo Pong, leading the Khmer Rouge’s force in the area, joined us to implement the win-win policy, we were able to come into the area in 1996. I must say the win-win policy started from this area before it replicated to the whole country. On January 3, 2013 I will pay a visit to Pailin, where former Head, Vice Head and Commander of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) could not enter the area for a piece of bamboo placed by a young Khmer Rouge’s soldier across the road. I am going to Pailin for we no longer have Khmer Rouge, Khmer White or Khmer Blue anymore. We only have Khmer here.

Youth-Student Volunteers – A Break to January 15, 2013

In order to attract investment from inside as well as outside the country, first we have to ensure that peace prevails. People would not even build homes when they are not confident of a durable peace. They would just wrap their gold and money ready to leave with them. Once the confidence is there, they would invest in building home and business. As the Royal Government is providing land titles, the people will have greater confidence and are sure that their lands will be for their children of many generations to come.

I would like to take this moment to inform our people in the province of Kompong Speu as well as other provinces except Phnom Penh, the provinces of Kandal, Prey Veng and Pailin that we have finished the land measuring and titling in the province of Kep already. There are 19 more provinces to finish up. The cadastre officials and the youth-student volunteers have arrived in Phnom Penh yesterday and, according to plan, they will return to their works on 15 January 2013. I would seek our people’s understanding that we have come to a time we need to change our working teams. At the same time, some of the youth-student volunteers need to go back to school to finish their studies too.

Those who already finished their studies will return with new forces replacing those having to go back to school. I will join them for an evening party on January 6, 2013 at Koh Pij Exhibition Centre. We will have a three-week break to sort out the need for reforming the teams, sending some students back to school but also welcome New Year and the 7 January Victory anniversary too. The number of returning teams will be the same – 168. I am glad to learn from HE Kang Heang, Governor of Kompong Speu province, a large portion of land has been measured, and land titles have been handed out so far.

Blood and Tear Soaked Land to Development

We have transformed this pitiful land soaked in blood and tears in the past into a land of development. This is a large-scale factory we can say and according to the company’s report costs 150 million USD. Oknha Lyong Phat just mentioned that the project would be expanding with the cost of some 250 million USD. In this month of December 2012, I have presided over four private investment projects inauguration – on 1 December, the AEON Mall (Cambodia) co. ltd., which is a Japanese project that costs 200 million USD and covers an area of over ten-hectare land in Phnom Penh.

On 17 December, I put into official operation the Special Economic Zone of Koh Kong province (SEZ-KK) and the Japanese auto-parts supplier Yazaki Corporation. The SEZ-KK is also an investment by Oknha Lyong Phat and we have seen companies from Japan, Korea and Thailand coming to operate from there. On 25 December, I presided over the inauguration of the fertilizer factory, an investment from the Five Star Group (Vietnam) at a price of 80 million USD with current production capacity of 350,000 tons/year and will be expanding to half a million tons. Today, we have a huge factory here in front of us.

As you can see, private investments that we have either launched the construction or put into official operation cost hundreds million USD and are creating job opportunity for large number of our people. I met with some young clerks over there telling me they obtain 300 USD per month as their salary and some at the back said they earn 200 USD per month according to their expertise. I am glad we have contributed to resolving the need for jobs for our people. Recently, I went to India to co-chair the twentieth anniversary of the ASEAN-India dialogue and the tenth anniversary of the ASEAN-India Summit, and had a chance to meet with an Indian company that plans to join hands with a local company for investment in agricultural sector.

Four Sugar Factories

The company would need a lot of land. In India alone, the company has secured hundred thousand hectares of land. The company also has similar deal in Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, etc. In all the company assured me they have million hectares of land where they place their money in. As you can see from the example, everywhere is talking about investment into agricultural sector, which would provide people not only jobs but also job integration. What is integrated job then?

I always encourage investors to focus on providing technology and seeds to people living in and around the project area. Take for instance there is a white sugar factory here and there are lands available nearby or a little farther but with good road condition and transport means, we can encourage people to swap from growing rice in water lacking condition to grow sugar cane. The market for their product would be the factory. You may want to make a calculation that in water-resource insufficient area, where people can grow rice for only one or one ton and a half per hectare, which is too low and cost-ineffective, we may want them to change their crop that is the demand of the market or the factory and which people can grow with higher yield. For instance, sugar cane could provide yield for three or four years. After harvesting, people can take care of them, then they will re-harvest. They can repeat doing that three or four times.

According to the report of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, mostly our people grow sugarcane in areas along the rivers. In 2012, sugarcanes were grown on the total area of 22,614 hectares, from which 468,738 tons of sugarcanes were harvested. However, most of these canes were not for producing sugar. They are sugarcanes that our people mainly consume fresh. The report of the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mines informs that we have four sugar factory investments – the Koh Kong Sugar Company with investment from Thailand, already in operation; the Sugar Company registered in 2010, district of Sambo, Kratie province, investment from India; the Phnom Penh Sugar Company, registered in 2011 but started construction in 2010; and the Chinese Yellow Field Company in Oral district, which has not yet started. According to the report of the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, HE Chan Sarun, there need to be more factories in various land concession areas.

Demand for Electricity Higher Than Estimated

I am so happy that we already have here 2,554 workers employed already. Among them 529 work in factories, 2,025 work in the sugarcane fields. However, the company ascertained that between November (last year) and May (this year) there would be a need of between 8,000 and 9,000 workers. I am so pleased that Oknha Lyon Phat and the company accept and fulfill my recommendations on improving infrastructure, organizing workers’ free lodgings.

There is also one remarkable point that I admire and encourage the company to go on doing that is use of sugarcane waste for generating electricity. As far as we know, the company has now generated 14.7 megawatt of electricity and five of which is sold to Electricité du Cambodge. Talking about electricity, I would like to take this time to ask for understanding from the people in Phnom Penh too. According to the report of Minister for Industry, Energy and Mines, HE Suy Sem and my meeting with HE Keo Ratanak, the Royal Government delegate in charge of Cambodian Electricity (Electricité du Cambodge), the electricity consumption in Phnom Penh has now reached over 400 megawatts, or if I am not mistaken 456 megawatts.

In 1979, Cambodia consumed only 20 to 30 megawatts of electricity. While it now consumes 456 megawatts, we could provide only 400 megawatts. I think there must be some mistakes in the estimation, for which we have depended on many famous experts from the World Bank, etc. of the need for electricity. It was determined that Cambodia would have a growing demand of 12% for electricity. On the contrary, the demand for electricity in Phnom Penh has grown twice the prediction – 24%. It is in this development that our investment in electricity generation has not corresponded to the people’s need. We have so many new satellite cities – Peng Huot, Sophakmongkul, Piphop Thmei, Virakjun, Canadia, Sunway, Grand Phnom Penh, etc. and various other flats that are built recently – some 20 or 40 storeys. They all need electricity.

I think expediting growth of construction in Phnom Penh has altered the evaluation of the experts. I also would like to have your attention that investment in generation of electricity – whether coal, spent engine oil or hydropower – demands buying-selling contracts. If the company finishes the construction and starts generation of electricity, the state will have to start buying their power as well. Failing to do so from the part of the state, the Royal Government will have to pay compensation for the generation. Take for instance, we have demanded for the production of electricity by 2012. Once the deadline comes, we have to pay for their power production or we will compensate.

It is now time to urge all factories to help in producing electricity and the factories here of Oknha Lyon Phat to increase its electricity production to 29,5 megawatts to sell to the Cambodian Electricity. They should be complementary to each other between those from the hydropower plants in Komjai, Kirirum and sooner Atai and Russei Jrum Kraom in the rainy season and the subsidiary electricity generation from sugarcane waste which is mostly in the dry season from November through to May. The company can there purchase power from the Cambodian Electricity in the rainy season and sell them their generation in the dry season. We should try to find out more subsidiary electricity generation to answer to demand in the dry season for electricity in Phnom Penh.

Starting from next year, in between May and June, we would urge for electricity generated by coal in the province of Preah Sihanouk as soon as we can in order to supply electricity from there through the gridline in Kompot province and on to Phnom Penh or even all the way to Kompong Cham province too. I must express to the company my sincere appreciation and thanks for the creative idea and use of waste to generate power for own consumption and sell to the Cambodian Electricity and people in the surrounding areas.

As is reported by the governor HE Kang Heang, there are 939 villages over 11,275 villages or 67% that has access to electricity. There are 35,448 families or 23.61% that are using electricity. This is our effort for the electrification of the rural area. More and more homes are replacing kerosene for lighting up by battery. Still we want our people to use electricity at a low price.

No Distinguishing between Local and Outside Investors

The investment in these factories and many others here has made me proud as we are making efforts to promote investment policy of the Royal Government for all – local and from outside. We adhere to the policy of no discrimination or favor given to local over external investments, or investment from so and so country over others. We treat them equally. However, I have a thorough policy to strengthen local investment capacity so that more Cambodians will be rich. I want to see more Cambodian millionaires. There are many of them in China. I want more local investors to do better and stronger but many people (in the opposition) are advocating class conflict and causing anger between local and foreign owners.

It seems the Pol Pot’s extreme policy is making its appearance again. Pol Pot benefitted from class differentiation and struggle in the Cambodian society where they urge one group or groups of people belong to certain class to have animosity with those of other class or the rich. They make it happen again in Cambodia. They urge people to nurture animosity against Oknha, the businessmen, the rich etc. as that of the class struggle so introduced by Pol Pot. I wish to see hundreds of Cambodians become rich and they would do many good things for the country, take for instance in time of need like flooding.

What we are against is the tax-free, illegal, disguised businesses. As far as legal businesses are concerned, they are encouraged and are free for anyone local or from outside, all across the board. I read one of Lenin’s book and I still think what he wrote is correct. However, those who turned his words into actions are wrong. He said in his New Economic Policy (1921) that “where there is no capitalist class, workers are in great difficulty, and where there is capitalist, workers will find it easier.” He means that where there is capitalist there are workers, without capitalists there would not be factories or workers themselves.

More Jobs Available in the Country

We now have in our country, big and small, close to 1,000 factories and over 4,000 handicraft workshops, all of which employ some 700,000 workers. This has yet to include investment in hotels, etc. Take for instance this is the time when our rice farmers finished harvesting their rice. They are now free and can find jobs in harvesting sugarcanes, which should provide them extra money. I once again urge the company to build lodgings for them and not to let them stay under tents. I know that some of you who came for harvesting sugarcane job are from Kompong Speu, Kandal and Takeo provinces. Everyone earns between 12,000 and 20,000 Riel per day or some who work on contract job would earn 170 Riel for every bunch of 12 sugarcanes, which in one day one could harvest and collect 100 bunches. That will make 17,000 Riel a day.

As you can see, after your own rice cultivation and harvest, you can come here for more money. I urge that the job market information should also advertise this for our people everywhere so that they learn of the work they can find here in the country rather going to find work in Thailand, where they will be doing exactly the same kind of job. They should know that going to Thailand, they would pay a lot more and separate from spouse and children, without knowing of foreign languages and when there is a problem, it would be difficult to intervene.

As a message at the end of this year, I would rebut what some people say that Cambodia is getting poorer. As far as I could recall, Phnom Penh before was only 300 square km, while now it is 700 square km. I signed four times to get more land from Kandal province for Phnom Penh. There are factories all along the national road 4. I think we cannot be poorer than in 1979, when, the people who complained also included, we all were barefoot.

Precautionary Measure for Fire Disasters

In the US, there is now a problem of school-shooting spree. Take for example, last week 28 students were killed (in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, USA). It also happened under Clinton but no policy against this enacted. Why was it so? It was because those who produce and deal arms were strong. Only a few measures have been applied. In the US, almost anyone can have weapon. The arms dealers are not the US government but the private people who produce and sell arms not only in the US but also in foreign countries. The US is number one country and Russia is the second.

I also would like to appeal to companies to pay attention to investment in water system. As there are many rich people present here I may want to urge them, as we just passed the law on fire extinguishing, about how to get their projects ready when there is fire disaster. Take for instance in city development, there should be installation of safety system, fire extinguishing and water access included, throughout the project area. I just want to re-appeal to companies which have huge hotels, factories, SEZ to work hard on two things – first, installing water network into the factory or hotel area so that water is available right at the place where there is fire disaster.

Traffic in Phnom Penh has been so jammed that moving from a certain place to fire broke-out one would not be in a timely manner and second, they should consider purchasing a fire engine for their own property in addition to the help provided by the Fire Extinguisher Team. Aside from taking care of their enterprises and other physical infrastructures, the company has the permission to import their own fire engine – left or right hand drive will do, for their own safety need. The state will not impose tax on such import./.