Selected Comments Samdech Techo Hun Sen at the Meeting with Workers/Employees at 7NG Area

[Unofficial Translation]


People’s Affection – a Source of Encouragement

[…] It has been as usual that people can selfie with me, hug me, and even kiss me. When you do, do you feel that I am wearing a bulletproof vest. I have no fear of what our people may do to me. Some people think that I had worn a bulletproof vest … I have high trust in the people of Cambodia and bulletproof vest is not necessary for me. I even had lunch with our workers without the need for specialist to check food for poisonous substance.

Such affection has been a source of encouragement for me to continue my leadership. More importantly, you all know Hun Sen very well, either on your own term or through your parents and/or grandparents. They have joined me in a long journey to liberate the country, to prevent the return of the regime of Pol Pot, to seek peace and national reconciliation, and to contribute to the country’s development in the past nearly 40 years.

Hun Sen’s Policy Transformed Battlefields into Markets and Production Areas

I have a great pleasure today to be in this part of our country. I must start by saying that a policy envisioned by Hun Sen personally as Prime Minister, and by the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) as a whole, was to transform every battlefields into marketplaces and production areas. Minister of Labor and Vocational Training HE Ith Sam Heng just reminded us about the bitter past of war in this area of Prek Tamak and Vihear Suor, a part of Phnom Penh surrounding area […] it was a fierce battle area since after the coup in 1970 through to April 1975. There were numerous heavy fighting.

It is almost unbelievable that in present day Cambodia, such battlefield has become a developed economic zone that provides jobs for nearly 20,000 people. With forthcoming investors, more will find jobs here. This has proven to you that after the liberation on 7 January 1979, the government put out visions of such transformation. We also have goal to transform border areas with neighboring countries into ones of peace, friendship, cooperation, and development […]

Many Visions to Implement

Another point to talk about is that though we set out so many visions, we had not been able to implement them all for our people. Until fourteen years later, we have realized them. I may bring up the past a bit for you and/or for our people in the whole country to think about what I am talking. One day, at the Prey Bang Buddhist pagoda, a distance further from Vihear Suor, presiding over a groundbreaking ceremony to build a bridge in March 2003, I slipped my tongue saying that if I were to continue to be Prime Minister, I would make effort to build the national road 8 […]

In those days, former Minister of Economy and Finance HE Keat Chhon and current Minister of Economy and Finance, HE Aun Pornmoniroth, and I had a discussion. We decided to use our available local resource to build the national road 8 in gradual steps, with a vision to build also the bridge at Prek Tamak. It was fortunate that improvement and elevation of relations between Cambodia and China had brought about a possibility to build also the national road 8 […] it would not be a solution if we only had a bridge and did not have a road.

In that case, who would come and invest in 7NG area? I am sure you have seen and remembered this. Everything happens because of a real vision and plan. We have a roadmap of transformation that covers every former battlefield into markets and development areas. A bridge spanning over one kilometer across the Mekong at Prek Tamak allows our people to travel with having to take a ferry anymore. You do not pay anymore. More importantly, you can cross the river anytime you need. In 1990, I composed a lyrics “a Golden Bridge Gift of Preah Kunlong.” Only the song is left with us. The former bridge built in replacement of a boat ferry at Preah Kunlong along the national road 8 is no more […]

Dissemination of Factories to Local Areas

It was in 1999, 18 years ago, that we took the initiative in a Royal Government-private sector meeting to disseminate factories to local areas or provinces to avoid concentration of factories in Phnom Penh to meet the need for labor. We disseminate schools close to students in the past and our people have indeed benefited from that policy. Nowadays, there could be more than one junior-level secondary schools in one commune […] we have stepped into this phase of sending factories to local area to address the need for jobs for our people and for labor for the factories […] Where have these come from? They are not coming from the opposition parties. They come from correct leadership with long-term vision of the Cambodian People’s Party. I am taking this opportune moment to express my sincere appreciation to your grandparents and parents for supporting my premiership […]

ASEAN Agrees to Protect Migrant Workers

Let me stress that the recent ASEAN Summit had made a special point in protecting migrant workers within the ASEAN region. It is such an important issue. As of this moment, our people may find jobs not only in the country but also in other countries. We have the need, however, to create more jobs for our people to reduce influx of migrant workers into Cambodia. We also need to find external job markets for our people like in Thailand or Malaysia. I am sure you all are happy with such outcome that we the ASEAN ten countries have achieved in the recent summit.

I had met and talked with Excellency Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar that has over two million workers in Thailand. Those Myanmar workers who earn between 250 USD and 300 USD could not go back to their country for jobs that would pay them only 79 USD or less than 100 USD […] as of this moment, our workers have had their income increasing. We are having an increasing number of workers now. Disseminating factories to local area along national road 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 does not happen without a vision and planning […] for staying at home, those of you working in this area have saved because you have lesser expenses than those living and working in Phnom Penh […]

Keeping Peace for Development

For what we need to do, primarily we must work together to keep our hard-won peace. Without peace, there would not be development. Without development, we also cannot keep peace. Our people have obligations to defend peace, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. Some of you may have listened to my speech addressing to the US President, H.E. Donald Trump […] what I said was to protect our nation. We do not want to be under any foreign domination. We, Cambodia, would not stand to have foreign interference in our affairs. I am calling on our compatriots to raise high our spirits of nationalism, independence, safeguarding sovereignty, and territorial integrity. We must not bow in exchange for little gifts. We went through unjust punishment from outside world. Bowing to no one (for pressure) is our honor. I expect that our people – young and old, male and female, and every stratum, agree with me on giving a value to our sovereignty.

Asking US to Turn Debt to Development Assistance

We must hold on to our position that there must be no foreign interference into our affairs, which for this reason in the past had brought us disaster. I have asked the United States of America to turn the Lon Nol’s debt to the US into development assistance for Cambodia. In my words, I compared this debt payment scenario to a fact that we had to pay for a hammer that they used to hammer us. I hope that President Donald Trump heard it loud and clear. As the meeting closed, I hold his hands and said – “I am sort to raise this issue.” He said to me – “No problem. Thank You.”

I take it to mean that he heard the voice of a small and poor nation clearly. Some analysts rebuked this by saying that Donald Trump was uninterested […] No matter what they said, I have taken pride in speaking my mind to a super power nation. We wish not to bow and be a puppet of anyone country. We would not do that just to win your assistance. We are after equal rights and footing […] I just had a look at my phone – not checking Facebook, but responded to request for decision in the course of voting at the United Nations on humanitarian crisis in Myanmar. We are abiding by the principle of non-interference […] It is our self-determination. This has shown that we are an independent and sovereign state in both domestic and foreign policy.

Considering Humanitarian Assistance to the Philippines and Myanmar

Peace is of utmost value. The past (mistakes) had killed us with wars, the genocide, absence of development, and systematic destruction. Let us look at what is happening now in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, or even in Marawi of the Philippines, which is liberated recently from ISIS control. Displaced people have not been able to return yet. We are considering humanitarian assistances partly to the Philippines because displaced people would need food, and partly to the people in the Rakhine state of Myanmar […] as you can understand, countries in the region have not ended their wars yet […]./.