Samdech, Excellencies, Lok Chumteavs, Ladies and Gentlemen!
Mr. LU WEI and President of AIAI and all the staff who joined us!
“North Star” … Undergoing Construction of Siem Reap Angkor International Airport
I am greeting all Cambodian/Chinese workers working here. I would also like to say from here to my compatriots who are watching the live broadcast from the territory of Siem Reap. Today we all came to see the progress of the construction of Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport, and tomorrow (we will) inaugurate (38) streets in Siem Reap city. It is about time for us to declare “the rising star in the north” after we have announced the “rising star in the southwest”, which refers to the coastal area that is our tourist destination.
Following the report of HE Toek Reth Samrech, Chairman of the Orientation Committee for the Construction of Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport, and after seeing firsthand the construction site, especially the runway and progress in other sites, we are confident in what we have achieved so far. Despite the difficulties in the Covid-19 phase, which hindered the transport of equipment, for instance, the company as well as the construction commission still managed to meet the deadline for its operation in 2023.
I should remind you that the work achievements that HE Toek Reth has reported just now clearly illustrated that this project is not a small one. It is a big project that the signing (took place) under the auspices of President Xi Jinping and myself during his visit to the Kingdom of Cambodia in 2016. We will have a new airport in our Siem Reap province.
New Airport to Accommodate Large Aircraft, Expand Passenger Terminal Capacity
I would also like to take this opportunity to clarify to the Cambodian people […] since Siem Reap already has an airport, why need to build another one. Please be informed that Siem Reap Airport, which we used for a long time and considered a big airport before, cannot afford landing of aircrafts that they have built bigger these days […] on one side is the runway, which is not long enough and cannot support higher wing loading and the weight of large aircraft. On the other side, technicians are concerned about the historical heritage of Angkor Wat.
In these considerations, we have to choose this location, which is about 50 km from Siem Reap and 40 km from former Siem Reap Airport to ensure safety for historical heritage (foundation from constant taking off and landing of aircrafts). Some experts are concerned not only about the sound of the plane but also the fact that constant taking off and landing of aircrafts that can cause vibrations shaking the temples’ foundations. I am not sure (about this claim). I just repeat what some of the technicians’ have said. The former airport can only accommodate small aircraft, say Boeing 737, Airbus 320, 321, 319 or slightly larger. For large aircraft, landing is not possible.
(The new Airport) will be able to accommodate landing of large aircraft traveling more than 10 hours. Aircraft these days can travel from Singapore or Bangkok to the US or Europe […] flying within 13 hours or 14 hours. We will be able to afford (landing and taking off) at our airport here. In Phnom Penh, too, though the current airport has been able to accommodate large aircraft, its (passenger terminal) capacity is not large enough. That is why we are building another airport in Kandal province […] and for Sihanoukville, there is a need for an extra runway for heavy aircraft landings.
Construction of Siem Reap Angkor International Airport to Provide Reasonable Compensation to French company
Now on the construction issue here, what is the difference between (the construction of) the three airports where we are getting the investment and management of a French company with this new airport (built by a Chinese company). (For the existing) airports that we worked with the French Company, […] most of our flour is ours and we combined them with some of the French flour to make the cakes. It means that we already have airports in operation, but we lack the capital for further investment. We called on France to invest in improving their capacities to handle (aircraft reception and passenger terminal) as well as the construction of a base (of old Siem Reap Airport) for future development […]
Gaining bidding success for the airport in Phnom Penh, France has the right to manage airports in Siem Reap and Sihanoukville as well. (For us to build a new airport here) at this point, we must have a fair compensation to the French Company, who, we hope, will not charge us too much after the benefit of the small airport in our Siem Reap province. Having said that I do not belittle the French company (but thank for) have joined us in developing Cambodia.
BOT Siem Reap Angkor International Airport Owned by Cambodia after 55 Years
I just want to clarify the difference between the (newly built) airport in Siem Reap that we visiting with the three airports we work with French Company. We are using BOT method in building this airport, but we can say it is almost entirely the Chinese flour used to make cakes. We just have land. Fifty-five years later, these airports and roads returned to Cambodia. So, China brought in nearly one billion USD to invest here in the first phase, and 55 years later, the airport and access roads will belong to us. At that time, we will be the owners […] we have land resources. This land belongs to Cambodia. China is investing in this place […] it is fortunate that we have good relations with our Chinese friends and the project inspired by the Chinese president. We have received three companies involved in the construction of this airport.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to relevant institutions. As HE Tek Reth Samrech described, they have been facilitating the works here and pointing out the directions of things to do so that the airport will be operational. Like the problem of clean water supply […] which is not here yet. Yesterday, Senior Minister Cham Prasidh reported to me that there was not enough water in this area. Siem Reap Water Supply Authority is responsible for supplying (water) to the area. According to our estimates, along with the airport, there could be a satellite town on the north side.
This area may become another city in the future. At that time, the Ministry of Interior had to consider related legal papers about creating a city. We have our way of organizing districts and/or municipalities for densely populated cities. Thus, sometimes the airport and some areas can develop into residential areas, organized into another small city with qualification of a district. The Electricity Department has facilitated the supply of electricity […] and I thank every institution for attentions to make the investment here a success.
Siem Reap to Receive 7 to 20 million Tourists
Do not be confused that investing here benefits only Chinese companies […] we need to get more tourists later. We already received nearly 7 million tourists before the Covid-19 time. If Covid-19 had not come, Cambodia would now have nearly 10 million tourists already, judging by the growing trend. For the first phase (of the operation) at the Siem Reap airport, we plan to receive 7 million tourists a year. The second phase will extend the figure to 10 million and in phase 3 to 20 million people a year. Therefore, the terminal capacity of the current Siem Reap Airport is not enough. We need to have a modern airport that can accommodate a large number of passengers […]
Currently, passengers on a large plane had to land in Phnom Penh before traveling by local flight to Siem Reap. When this large airport finished construction, tourists traveling from long distance can land here. We will be able to host the ASEAN Summit, for which partners from long distance can land for the meeting in Siem Reap. Last year, 2012, I also wanted to have the ASEAN Summit in Siem Reap, but we could not because the President of the United States, the President of South Korea, the Prime Minister of Japan, and the Prime Minister of China would all travel by large planes that landing in Siem Reap airport was not possible. In the near future, we will be able to hold an ASEAN meeting in Siem Reap, as our airport can receive long haul flight.
Cambodia’s Four Poles – Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Siem Reap and Northeast
With the airport construction here, it encourages the development of the North, which I take this opportunity to declare another rising star in the North. It is time to say so, as we have made great strides in connecting Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and from Siem Reap to Banteay Meanchey and Battambang, plus we have invested heavily in Siem Reap. We have built good supporting infrastructure that we will inaugurate in the provincial town (tomorrow). We are building a giant international airport in Siem Reap. It serves the development of the northern region, which can cover Siem Reap, Oddar Meanchey, Kampong Thom and possibly part of Preah Vihear province […] our country is divided into 3 poles – the first pole, Phnom Penh, the second pole is Sihanoukville, and the third pole is Siem Reap. The fourth pole that will be the rising star of the northeast is for Kratie, Ratanakiri, Mondulkiri, Stung Treng on that side.
Siem Reap a Battlefield Still in 1993 UNTAC Time
At this point, even though this is the territory of the former battlefield, not to mention the 1980s, even the UNTAC (United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia) time, it was difficult for us to come here. In March 1993, the Khmer Rouge was still invading Siem Reap. Strike through Siem Reap Airport. At the time, (UNTAC Chief Yasushi) Akashi asked for intervention. I told Yasushi Akashi – “if you could not control UNTAC spokesman Eric Falt, I would allow the Khmer Rouge to invade.” At that time, some UNTAC staff injured, not by bullets, but by running and hitting their heads (when entering the trench).
I asked HE Hor Namhong to confirm to Akashi if UNTAC can keep Eric Falt under control. The problem was when the Khmer Rouge launched attack UNTAC (spokesperson) announced the (parties of) Khmer Rouge and the State of Cambodian violated the ceasefire agreement. They should condemn the Khmer Rouge alone. Why condemn us (the State of Cambodia) who did not know a thing. At that time, I had not yet allowed the fourth military region to counter attack but we were concerned they would have occupied […]
Win-Win Policy Creates Peace, Turns Former Battlefields into Development Zones
Even though I did not get there (Kulen mountain and Kirirom mountain areas), I knew the geography where these areas were battle zones. A former battlefield. They were my target areas to turn from former battlefields into development zones. (In Soat Nikum district) it is not just the cultivated areas, […] we now have the Siem Reap International Airport under construction, and there would come a collection of constructions in the territory of Siem Reap’s Soat Nikum district. It is no coincidence that we can do this.
It comes from our efforts to bring the country from war to a land of national unity and territorial unity through win-win politics. Through this peace, we take advantage of the hard-won peace to develop the country. Here, the company has already deposited hundreds of millions of dollars. Just this one runway, how many tens of millions is it worth. Not a joke and not a hut. All buildings must be very strong to ensure the safety of an international airport landed by large aircraft. Things are in places one after the other – aviation fuel storage tank, radar, in general, what they would have as in every airport.
Siem Reap Angkor International Airport Gives Jobs in Construction and Operation Times
I would like to commend the company as well as the Cambodian and Chinese workers who work here for their hard works. On the one hand, we tackle local jobs issue for our people to earn incomes through investment companies. As of present, there are 1,900 workers, the majority of which are Cambodians. They only need some Chinese technicians. That is part of the job solution. When the airport is in operation, there will be demand for jobs, not Chinese, but mostly Cambodians […] even the vendors would have come and rent shops for business. That is part of the development of the country. There is no other option.
Cambodia Need No Foreign Military, Only Foreign Tourists
Few analysts could have thought this airport (Siem Reap Angkor International Airport) is the basis for Chinese (military) flights. (Let me state it clearly here that) if they wanted to, they could just go to Pochentong (Phnom Penh International Airport). They can land anywhere if they wanted to. Suppose they launch a military operation; they can land anywhere. It is my hope that commentators and analysts will not consider the construction of Siem Reap International Airport as part of China’s overseas military build-up […] Cambodia does not need a foreign military. It needs more foreign tourists […]
Analysts should not over-analyze, hopefully. As long as we are doing something with China, the only thing they know and say was for China to send their troops in. Some of the analysts who came up with that kind of analysis are foreigners and some are Cambodians. Some even said that the Dara Sakor Airport is for welcoming the Chinese military. Why not landing at the Kang Keng Airport, (existing airport in Kompong Som), it is easy. If it is for slander, why not say that airports in the whole of Cambodia are ready for the Chinese military […]
It is clear that once the airport is ready there will be planes coming and landing, and that Chinese Company spend billions of USD is not just for accommodating Chinese planes. Every plane from everywhere can come landing. Cambodia is not stupid enough to let its territory allow foreign troops in the country against its Constitution. The other day I told the Australian ambassador and the Australian military attaché that I did not need any foreign troops, but I received the military attaché. The Australian military attaché sat down to record, and he laughed. The military attaché can be present and working, but the foreign army cannot be […]
Request for Chinese Grant to Build 15km Road to Connect to Siem Reap City
Today does not know the rain anymore […] yesterday, traveling on the road it looked like the rainy season before the Khmer New Year. Next year I think after the test landing, I would like to travel by special plane landing here. It would be great for the Siem Reap Angkor International Airport to welcome HM the King to have the first, and honored the landing […] and from here to connect with National Road 6 […] there are like 15 kilometers […] HE Sun Chanthol may ask our Chinese friend […] for a grant to build this connecting road to Siem Reap city […]
Our country is progressing. It is true that (we are living with) Covid-19, but at some point, the Covid-19 is gradually reducing to the common cold. Traveling will be normal again. It is true that the airfare is going up. There are two types of price increase – the first increase is due to the need to keep safe distancing, for which reason the plane can allow a smaller number of passengers […] another causing factor was because some countries are attacking each other. Their fighting is thus creating a problem of rising global oil prices, and therefore causing plane ticket prices to rise. Sri Lanka declares state of emergency due to rising oil prices as the economic crisis has caused unrest […]
Now I want to ask some workers audience here on this side to see how much they are paid, I asked honestly […] (Samdech Techo has conversations with four staff and workers – three Chinese language translators, including one female, and one construction foreman who worked on the Siem Reap Angkor International Airport project) […]./.