Selected Comments Samdech Techo Hun Sen at the Opening Ceremony of 4th River Festival at Kandal Province “River of Peace, Friendship and Tourism”


Cambodia Is Fortunate with Waterways

You may remove the projector screen behind me as I am not going to go through the prepared text. On behalf of men present here I wish every woman on the International Women’s Day peaceful life and progress. As we are celebrating the Tonle (River) festival, let me remind you the Cambodian women known from ancient time to be Naga. I wish that every women suffer no insult of any kind, whether what zodiac powerful Naga. This is not to take advantage of the fact that I was born in the year of dragon, but instead I wish that women to earn respect not only on one day but throughout 365 days in the year […]

I wish to take this opportune moment to raise some issues that we must figure out in the time to come. We all know that besides Angkor Wat and temples left by our ancestors, the Kingdom of Cambodia has been fortunate with natural resources and geo-location. We have sea, many rivers, and lakes. Our people reap a lot from our rivers. We have the rivers Mekong, Sekong, Bassac, Sap, Se San, and Sre Pork, all of which are relating to numerous lakes and serving the need for agricultural cultivation, fishing, transportation, hydropower, and tourism development, including those cooperation at international level.

More Waterways, More Challenges

While many waterways provide many benefits, we must see also that there are many challenges coming along such as issues of flooding, land erosion, siltation, water-current redirection, etc. We may have many water canals to provide water for irrigation and transportation, but we also have to spend more on connectivity such as building bridges. Take for instance, across the river of Bassac here, we have four bridges – Monivong, New Monivong, Cambodian-Chinese Friendship Bridges at Takhmao, and Koh Thom. Every country has different geo-location setups. Some countries have land and not much water and they do not have difficulties searching for viaduct connectivity infrastructures. With our geo-location, Cambodia has to do what it has to do. We cannot fill in rivers and lakes with soil. We must reap the natural benefit and try to resolve challenging issues.

Authority to Take Charge of People’s Safety

Beside objective factors ranging from land erosion to water current redirection, there are many more challenging issues that demand national level efforts. Local authorities would be in position to address small riverbank land erosion. They may relocate people to safer ground. National authority must also be paying attention and take parts in this effort too. Let me remind provinces bordering with river and lakes in their territories to take up these responsibilities in their competent authorities […] should there be flooding, efforts must be to move people to safer ground, which we have already mapped out many years back […]

Post-Flood Sanitation

We also need to focus, and we have done it many years back now, to look after sanitation issue after flooding. When water recedes, wastes materials buried underground could have found its way out […] in 2000, we had this problem of cholera in the flood-prone area. However, after taking certain measures, we do not have that problem again in the past 18 years. There has not been any outbreak of cholera thanks to our joint efforts between state and private sector, especially those from people themselves […] we must take care of these issues to extract the most from our rivers’ potential, lakes, etc. That there are waterways in Cambodia, we may target them for development and use rivers especially for tourism development, which has enormous interaction to the Kingdom’s development in general, especially living condition of the people […]

Five Recommendations

To make sure that rivers will be of great benefits, there are a few recommendations that I can come up with:

Firstly, together we must keep peace. We must not leave our rivers suffered like in between 1970 and 1975, when all sorts of bombs and explosives dropped in them. It was a sad tragedy that we have put it behind us. We must not allow it to happen again. We must not allow our rivers become fighting grounds like in those years […]

Secondly, seek further capital to protect riverbank land erosion; resolve siltation and shallow issues; redirect water current; prevent anarchic sand pumping, illegal fishing, destruction of inundated forest, etc., all of which would ensure attractions of tourists […]

Thirdly, develop tourist sites in cities and/or town along the rivers. It is an example here that we have so many companies’ stands presenting and selling their products. We will celebrate the fifth river festival in Kompong Chhnang. We must make the Tonle festival a ceremony not only one day but every day, and in every city/town along the rivers to attract tourists, local and international. In Phnom Penh alone, you can see that we have tourist sites in Kien Svay, Koh Dach, etc. […] we call on our people to take part in keeping our surrounding clean and good environment […]

Fourthly, make efforts to strengthen and expand water-transportation of goods and passengers, including those for tourist purpose. We must make further effort to increase water-transportation aimed at reducing traffic congestion on land and damaging roads. We still see that water-transportation is substantial for national development. I take this chance to inform you, and to support the project of putting into operation traveling by speedboat from Takmao city of Kandal to Phnom Penh, and to (Prek Phneo) in the Tonle Sap area, and return […]

Fifthly, secure international cooperation to ensure peace, friendship, and cooperation of our rivers. We will have a meeting of the International Mekong River Commission on 5 April, where four heads of states and governments will be present, and Cambodian will do the hosting in Siem Reap. Prime Minister of Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and consultative partners China and Myanmar will also be present. We also have Greater Mekong Sub-region meeting in March in Hanoi […] the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation between China and the Mekong countries that Cambodia also hosted and co-chaired the meeting in last January […] the Japan-Mekong cooperation which we meet every year […] the Mekong-Korea cooperation […] the United States of America-Lower Mekong cooperation […] the Mekong-Ganga cooperation between the Mekong countries and India […] which are providing benefits for development in countries along the Mekong as a whole, and Cambodia in particular […]

Tonle Festival Every Year, Provinces with Lakes Can Host Festival

I hope that the Tonle festival will continue to be festive every year, for which province candidacy for the ceremony will have to be one with development. I already decided the day before yesterday for Kompong Chhnang to host the fifth Tonle festival […] which province will host the Tonle festival in 2020? It does not have to be provinces bordering with rivers to host this festive event. Those provinces along the Tonle Sap Lake also earn rights to host it. It does not have to be a festivity organized in provincial town. They can do it wherever they think fit. All they need to do is getting ready for it. There must be considerable points about attracting people to it. We also have to start thinking about elements of conservation and/or development from now. Should any one province wishes to host this Tonle festival in 2020 or 2021, they must embrace this concepts and vision of development […]

Pleased with North-South Korean Dialogue

… As a sovereign state and a member of the United Nations, and on behalf of the Kingdom of Cambodia, I am pleased with the good news about dialogue between North and South Koreas. It has indeed relieved tension in the region as well as in the world. What is even more important is that should a meeting between the US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jung-un be real, it would be a vibrant message to the world – not only for powerful countries neighboring and/or locating nearby Koreas but every countries will certainly have their minds on it […] I do hope that in the ASEAN-Australian meeting in days to come, ASEAN and Australia will welcome this move. No matter what, this has reduced concern of a nuclear war between North Korea and the United States of America – a more relaxing topic for other leaders in the world […]./.