Selected Comments Samdech Techo Hun Sen at the Inauguration of Sokha Hotel Siem Reap

[Unofficial Translation]


Today I am so pleased to be with Excellencies, Lok Chumteavs, Ladies and Gentlemen, to put into official operation two new hotels in one location – which is the Sokha Siem Reap five star hotel of 772 rooms and five modern bungalows, and Sokha Palace Siem Reap four start hotel of 447 rooms. Together we have here 1,240 rooms, the biggest hotel in the Kingdom of Cambodia.

On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I wish to express my heartfelt congratulation and appreciation for the company to have built these modern hotels. With this capacity in place, we could be more confident of hosting various meetings here – the non-aligned movement summit, etc. I am of an opinion that we might be considering hosting the ASEAN summit in 2022 and other related summits, the East Asian ones included in Siem Reap. We still have many more years but it is better to think of it in advance. We had launched such hosting twice in Phnom Penh already. We should do this hosting in Siem Reap in 2022 […]

Win-win Policy and Open-Sky Policy Expands Tourism

… (Internal insecurity) took away our chance to host tourists, those from Japan included, because the Japanese government then forbade their people not to visit any places beyond Siem Reap’s Angkor Wat for fear of hostage taking and/or killing by guerrilla actions. It was fortunate that we put out win-win policy, which provides development for the country. After securing peace and territorial unity for the first time in hundreds of years, Cambodia grasped once again an ability to expand its tourism industry, which is one of the main engines of growth for our socio-economic development.

I must recall why we had this open-sky policy. It was an idea suggested to me by former Prime Minister of Singapore Goh Chok Tong. In 1994, I went to Singapore for a medical checkup and visit, HE Goh Chok Tong, then Prime Minister of Singapore, said to me that if he were Excellency Hun Sen, he would launch an open-sky policy, allowing direct flight to Siem Reap to expand the country’s tourism industry. We gave a lot of thought on that. Unfortunately, in 1997, because of the incident in the country, many airline companies withdrew and left us. Only Bangkok Airway stayed and helped us. Other companies left their businesses because of the 5/6-July incident for other destinations […]

Direct Flight to Siem Reap Brought about Construction of Hotels

When we launched the open-sky policy that allowed direct flight to Siem Reap, some tourist businesses in Phnom Penh protested the policy on ground that that would dwindle down number of tourists to Phnom Penh. As for those who supported the policy, they not only reap benefits in Phnom Penh but also in Siem Reap. Should there be no direct flight to Siem Reap, who would have invested in building hotels? Tourists would come only for one day and return. There would not be infrastructures in place for more arrivals. It is in this connection that we could consider open-sky policy a major part of attraction for construction of hotels, by which now we have up to 198 hotels, 9 apartments, 311 guesthouses, 182 restaurants, 288 tour agencies, 4,619 tour guides and 35 sites, which are the fundamental foundation for tourism.

… Not only that we are opening our sky, we also are opening our land and water for arrivals of tourists. We have land opening for tourist arrivals with the Kingdom of Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos. We also allow arrivals by water – either on small ships in the Mekong River or by sea. Tourism grows well in Siem Reap and at a rapid speed. There are up to 36 airlines with an average of 41 landings and taking-off per day […] this is a clear point suggesting that should there be no peace, political stability, there would be no development. Without development and peace, there would be no tourists. They would not travel to countries with insecurities. No one would invest in hotels in a country that is at war […]

As in 1993, it was closer to the elections day, the Khmer Rouge force then fought into Siem Reap. People in Siem Reap would have remembered that. The Khmer Rouge opened attacks and fought their way through the airport. An UNTAC (United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia) soldier injured himself that time but not from a fight, but from hitting himself with a tree in his escape. Then spokesperson of UNTAC, Eric Falt reported that both the Khmer Rouge and the State of Cambodia violated the cease-fire agreement. I then told Yasushi Akashi, President of UNTAC, that if Eric Falt continued to make such statement, I would leave the Khmer Rouge to launch attacks. Akashi then asked for necessary interventions of the force of the State of Cambodia […]

They had been unjust towards us since when the country was implementing the Paris Peace Agreement. They fought us and we defended ourselves. They said we were the one to violate the cease-fire agreement. The Khmer Rouge who caused trouble went free […] I shared many of these experiences with our troops first before they leave for a UN mission in Sudan […]

Security and Public Order Attract Tourists

Coming back to tourism, Siem Reap has been our huge treasure left by our ancestors and Kingdom – Angkor Wat temples and others, and many more in Preah Vihear and Kompong Thom provinces nearby. A treasure it is that people in the world want to witness. In face of this, we have many works to accomplish. If we are not doing it properly, there will be turmoil and things that are beyond management. Tourism as a means for development could be detrimental to our cultural heritages. However, since we have cultural and tourism policies, together with a hard-won peace, we have been able to prevent all that and ensure progress of our country. We have put in place a master plan for development in the country […]

What we need to continue to accomplish is firstly to guarantee that there is security and peace, not only in Siem Reap but also throughout the country. Should we have no peace and security, for example due to some kinds of terrorist acts, no one would have come visit our country. It would not be an issue only for tourism but also for our country’s socio-economic development. In Europe, there had been waves of terrorist acts like in form of steering trucks into flocks of people. It had happened in France, in Germany and the UK […] we must pay attention to this matter. While paying attention on providing security and political stability, we must also provide safety for our people and tourists. We must make our tourist destinations safe and free from gangsters, thefts, and drugs, etc […]

Agendas and Policies for Tourism Development

Secondly, we must continue to pay attention on agendas and policies for tourism development put out by the Ministry of Tourism in relation to hospitality to attract tourists to the Kingdom. For instance, issuing a visa for tourists would be facilitations in favor for more arrivals. Since we have less number of embassies in foreign countries, issuing a visa on arrival is the most appropriate way to make it easy for tourists. Take for instance in the People’s Republic of China, we have consular office in some but not in every provinces. Chinese tourists cannot always go to Beijing for visas. Visa on arrival is the way to do it … but I urge concerned authorities in the airport to continue to resolve this issue in a cooperative and fruitful manner. We must make their visit easy […]

On another front, we also allow tourists to use whatever currencies they wish. Some people blamed us for lack of independence for neglecting use of local currency. I can answer this matter on behalf of relevant authorities that in this world, there is not even a single country using one’s own currency alone. The US dollar and Chinese Yuan are becoming the most important means of transactions […] having said so does not mean that we will not strengthen our Riel currency but we are not yet coming to a stage for Riel alone yet. We will continue to use Riel currency in big transactions but we also allow markets to judge which currency could be a consensus between buyers and sellers […]

The issue remains is to expand capacity of our airports. We are in the mind to continue to seek way to expand our airports to accommodate landing of bigger planes. We need to have a bigger plane in Siem Reap and in Phnom Penh. Existing airports are not corresponding to growth of air transportation of the Kingdom of Cambodia. In Sihanoukville, we will need to expand runway. We have plans already […]

Allow Nobody to Destroy This Nation

Hotel business is lucrative. However, one must be careful because they can be subjects of destruction should there be no more peace and political stability. We will resolutely not allow anyone to destroy our country’s national security. We have arrested a man in treason act. We will continue whatever process is necessary because this has been systematic arrangement and collusion. We have noticed some disrespectful acts in Kompong Thom, Preah Vihear and yesterday in Siem Reap. I just wanted to clarify that it will not end at arresting a man. The case will cover the systematic act as a whole. We will not allow anyone to commit treason, destroy our country and security at all. We must ensure peace to make development, and with development, we will keep peace.

We will allow nobody to do just whatever s/he wanted and acted as foreign henchmen […] we have sought for this hard-earned peace. I am warning them that I will not allow urban guerrilla activities. We will not wait for urban guerrilla for color revolution to happen. They had started it but failed and they will continue to try. We will not allow urban guerrilla activities to destroy our national security […] I will not do it only for myself. It will be for the sake of security of the whole country, for independence and sovereignty. They bombed our country, many of our people died. Why could they do it? The United Nations recognized the Khmer Rouge’s Democratic Kampuchea. Why could they do it? I just lead a lawful implementation for the sake of national security and sovereignty, why can I not do it. We will carry it out without hesitation for the sake of survival, and achievements that we hardly earned them […]

Downpour Comes, Please Take Extra Cares

In Siem Reap, there has been lots of rain and it will continue to come. Everywhere in our country must take extra precautionary measures for upcoming heavy rains, which could cause flooding to certain areas. I demand local authorities of all levels and our people to be cautious with flash flood. Wherever there is a way to relieve it, please hurriedly do it. I noticed on TV that along National Road 6, in Siem Reap province, someone let water out and flood people’s rice field […] We must use collaborative means to pump water out of the city should there be a need. It should be swift as we did in 2011 to deal with flash flood at Banteay Srey. I am warning you of heavy rains and asking you to keep abreast with information on tourist destinations […]./.