Selected Comments Samdech Techo Hun Sen at the Inauguration of the Royal Sands Koh Rong Hotel [Unofficial Translation]

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CNV: 

Inaugurating the Five-Star Royal Sands Koh Rong Hotel

I am so happy today to be able to come for the first time to Koh Rong. In nearly forty years that I rule the country, the only island that I had been was Koh Tonsay. I have not been able to go to other islands yet. Secondly, I also never visit the mountains of Kulen and Kirirom. However, I have a good knowledge of those places, I am able to monitor and resolve issues there. Today, Samdech Krola Haom Sar Kheng is attending the opening of the Senate session because this inauguration today has been pre-scheduled and there was lack of communication from the Senate’s choice of date. We are here to put into operation the five-star Royal Sands Koh Rong Hotel.

Inspecting and Taking Back Islands Left Without Investments

I am so proud that we have finally made it happen and I hope there will be more to come. I should say that many of our islands have not come out with real achievements yet. We have offered from the start chances for some thirty islands for companies to invest. However, we may have to take those islands back because they have not done anything to develop those islands yet. HE Sok Chenda (of the Cambodia Development Council) may process inspections and take those islands back. We may get them ready for new investments. We cannot allow our islands to stay without proper managements as they are now […]

Koh Rong – A Destination of High-Class Tourists

Today, Koh Rong has become a destination for high-class tourists […] for instance in Maldives, many Cambodians have also liked to spend their times there though their environment were not even better than in Cambodia. We have so many islands invested to attract high-class tourists such as Koh Tonsay. They are not only for foreign tourists. They are for local tourists as well. I learnt that some Cambodians are spending their night in a two-thousand USD per night hotel […]

I am so happy to learn from the report of the director of the hotel after the project was launched since 12 December 2015 under the presence of Samdech Krola Haom Sar Kheng […] There will be a construction of some 59 Km of road, of which thirty has already started. That our people had to travel from one place to the other by boat, they would not do that anymore once the road is ready. Koh Rong will be in connection by roads. They will build concrete road and I am sure we will have more tourists coming to spend their holidays here.

Cambodian Islands Are No Targets for Terrorists

That is a major part of the Kingdom of Cambodia’s development. A country that is in peace. I have confidence that Cambodian islands are no targets of terrorist attacks. They would not be in their interests to destabilize Cambodian islands and to cause disruption of flow of tourists to visit those islands. I am very proud of such progress. This has clearly indicated that there is no political crisis in Cambodia. Cambodia is continuing its path of development. Cambodia is among the countries with systematic democracy, liberal pluralism, and advancing with firm economic growth and investments.

Land Prices Go High Before Elections

We may make a point that 2018 is different from every other years before. I could remember that during the elections in 1998, land prices stood still. People waited to see what would happen during and after the elections. Right after the elections results came out that the Cambodian People’s Party won, land prices went up. Again, in 2003, in the golf field, many went abroad because they had concerns in the period of elections. The field went quiet. Once the Cambodian People’s Party won the elections, they flocked the field again. In 2008, everything stood still waiting to see who would win the elections. Once the Cambodian People’s Party won, land prices went up. In 2013, it was more of the same. However, in 2018, land prices does not go down but go up even before the elections because they knew very well that I would continue to be Prime Minister and that the Cambodian People’s Party will win the elections is a sure thing.

Inaugurating Koh Rong Hotel to Advertise to Tourists

My presence here on Koh Rong is a starting point. I hope that other islands that earned their contracts from the Royal Government will continue with their development plans. I will take my time to join inaugurations because this will be messages to outside world and tourists to come to the Kingdom of Cambodia to have their peaceful holidays […]

Buildings on Islands Should Not Be Taller Than Trees

I am of the recommendation that buildings on the island should not be taller than trees grown here. HE Chea Sophara, Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning, and Construction, the one to approve the construction plans, must not allow construction of 30 or 50 floor-buildings. Let us keep it natural. We are interested to maintain a development covered by nature […] we shall keep the beach for everyone. I wish to add that in every islands, development must follow procedures and master plans […]

Koh Rong and Every Islands Are State Property

Along with our encouragement to continue with islands development according to procedures and master plans, while taking care of our environment and natural beaches, I am taking this opportune moment to affirm to people living here and in the whole country that Koh Rong and every islands are all state property. We offer people/companies rights to reside, to collect profit, but not the right to manage it. Let us be clear that Koh Rong is the state property and the state has offered rights to a company to invest to attract tourists to create jobs for our people. At a certain point in time, the islands will return to the state. It is not a private land. It is a state land that leases out to private company for investment.

We have to develop it because there will be no tourists interested in coming to spend their holidays under trees without hospitality.  Many countries in this world have developed their islands even before us. People should not be of the misconception of land at Koh Rong belongs to Oknha Kith Meng. It is the land belongs to the state and the state offers it for investments to the company. There had been misunderstanding so far that people are in land conflict with company, while in fact it is the state’s responsibility […]

The Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning, and Construction has made efforts to resolve the problem of land disputes here. I issued a sub-decree for this matter. We have issued land titles for some and not for others. We have registered some 1,221 land parcels. We already issued titles of 637 land parcels for 294 families with a total area of 525.37 hectares. We have another 584 land parcels that we have not yet issued their titles because there are still some land disputes and we are working on inspecting their identifications.

Stop and Prevent Infiltration for Land in Koh Rong and Other Islands

Let us be clear altogether. How many people would have lived here before 2008? How many would really be occupying these lands? It was infiltration and claiming land by our people. Some are coming from other places. Some claimed to be islanders but they are living in Phnom Penh, etc. They use their resources to get the lands and that has caused troubles. I do not believe people in Koh Rong have had so much land […] Claiming land along the beach has been actions not only happens at Koh Rong but some other islands too. However, many have happened here. There have also been problems with the army. According to information I gathered, people even claimed land in area belonged to the navy forces […]

Let us offer this job to HE Chea Sophara to resolve these land disputes and identify people involved. We cannot sit and blow the smoke away. We must extinguish the fire. Coming to Koh Rong today, aside from inaugurating the hotel, I also wish to put out the fire. I wanted to see powerful officials and wealthy persons behind this land occupation endeavors.  I am telling them they should have had enough already. Each would have hundreds if not thousands of hectares of land. They have more than what the Prime Minister does […] as Prime Minister, I am not greedy. It is because of this fact that I can point my finger at those infiltrated and occupied lands […]

Implementing Master Plan with Flexibility

… We have already developed a master plan for development. Every development project must implement master plan with flexibility. As a matter of experiences, we always decided on where the projects are on a map and failed to see it in real. Take for instance the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, as well as the Ministry of Environment, they worked on maps and came up with figures so much were under forests, etc., while in fact, where they indicated to be forest were rice fields […]. It was in this understanding that in 2012 I sent youth to measure the lands for our people and take those lands out of our maps […]

Let me affirm that should you (Ministers or Provincial governors) pass me a hot potato, I would hold it for a while and eat it later. However, you would not do that. You pass me only hot rock. What defined by law you failed to implement it. You just need to fulfil your obligations defined by law. I have said on many occasions that you just have to fulfil the law and not wait for the order. If the Prime Minister has to do everything, why do we have you as Ministers and/or provincial governors? […]

New Cabinet Would Not Have Hot-Rock Passing Ministers

From now on, and the elections is not far away, I will keep monitoring your ways of working […] I would not hold your hard rock anymore I would return it to you. In addition to that, in the new cabinet there will not be your kind in it. It is my right to set up the Royal Government […] we must see the values of these trees and forests. We wanted eco-tourists that HE Thaong Khon reported that in just three months early this year, we have up to 100,000 of them. Last year, there were 400,000 of tourists visiting Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloeum. We must see that taking profit from tourism is a better way. We must keep our beach clean and attract further investments […]

Welcoming Tourists to and Stopping Forest Anarchy in Koh Rong

While I could have sent a Deputy Prime Minister to inaugurate the hotel, the fact that I am making my presence here is for two objectives. Firstly, inaugurating the hotel to send a message to tourists who wanted to spend their times at Koh Rong and stay in the five-star Royal Sands Koh Rong hotel. Secondly, my presence is to issue a closing of protracted land disputes problem in, and to end forest anarchy for land occupation at Koh Rong […]

Being flexible, I mean that we must check the land against the map. Should there be people living on the land, we either cut them out for the people or trade them to different places with some kind of compensations […] there should not be losers in this arrangement. Only those who claimed land (illegally) will face with confiscation by the state […] it is the state role and duty […] land and sea are the state properties. We must make efforts together to keep heritages left by our ancestors […]./.