Selected Speech Samdech Techo Hun Sen, on the official Operation of National Road 21 [unofficial Translation]

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CNV: 23/03/2022

Despite the Delay in Inauguration, People Already Benefited

Today, we are very happy to inaugurate jointly National Road 21, which connects the provincial town of Kandal to the Vietnamese border Chrey Thom. The program originally scheduled to take place in March 2021, but because of the February 20 (Covid-19 community outbreak) event, we postponed the launch for a year. Despite the delay, our people have already benefited from traveling on National Road 21. His Excellency Senior Minister Sun Chanthol made a report related to this road issue, and at this point, I clearly remember all the aspects related to the operation of this road, especially the flood in 2020, which severely damaged it. At that time, we also allowed the engineering team of the Ministry of National Defense led by General Kong Ieng to do the construction. The construction at that time followed old route and only partially expanded. There were two-part constructions then. One part in Kandal province (built) by the public works of Kandal province, while Kong Ieng built the part behind.

This road is a bit difficult to build. The cost is also high because we have many canals on this road. Some people have been whispering to me that we should remove those canals and replace them with landfills. They say that would leave us with more highland. Here are some suggestions, but let me tell you our experience with national road 1 at the point where two bridges were built by the Japanese […] originally there were canals, but Pol Pot closed them down. By the time of the 2000 floods, Phnom Penh had almost flooded, and I ordered to cut loose the national road 1 to ease the flow of water from the upper area.

In the lower part, there are more than 50 bridges, small and large […] we have to build bridges. It is not possible to remove the canals. When the water level rises, it brings in fertile silt and fish movements to breed more in the lower areas, while people have water in lake for irrigation to their agricultural activities. We have tried to find financial resource to rebuild this road. Fortunately, thanks to the good relations with the Republic of Korea, we have received funding from the Republic of Korea to build this road.

Covid-19 Manageable, Restart Inauguration Programs

In addition to concerns about the road, we are also concerned about landslides (at the riverbank) along this national road. After the construction, the points where landslide was a threat, we have replaced and made it concrete, thus reducing possible riverbank land erosion along national road 21 […] mentioned by the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea the achievement is one new indication of what Cambodia and the Republic of Korea have made together. This is the second event after the one where we launched the construction national road 48, which connects National Road 4 to the provincial town of Koh Kong. We will have another meeting to inaugurate buildings at the Ang Duong Hospital next week, March 28. We will meet again. Since the reopening of the country, there have been a series of inauguration ceremonies or site openings. This is our normal process. Some of the events are what we have planned to celebrate in 2021, but due to the outbreak of Covid-19, we have suspended them until now. As situation eased, today we gather for this inauguration.

HE Sun Chanthol spoke about the importance of this road. If we think of all the roads that connect with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the national road 21 is the closest in distance […] for us to exchange goods with each other. Not only goods, we import electricity from Vietnam to Cambodia via this port too. Many of Cambodia’s agricultural products exported through this pass. Vietnamese products to be imported also pass through this channel […] we also spent money to build the Chrey Thom Bridge, where the border line sits in the middle of the river. Vietnam spends half the cost and Cambodia spends half the costs to build this bridge […]

Mines and UXOs Clearing in All Construction Projects

We are proud of the progress […] the old road, which was small, some parts were only five meters […] we have to widen it. We have spent 9,347,906 US dollars to address the impact and 795,112 USD for clearing unexploded ordnance. In Cambodia, we must take precautionary measures to avoid dangers that UXOs could cause in the construction. It is not just about road builders, people may suffer from it as well. We have to (remove them) everywhere […] on this occasion, through the Ambassador, I would like to thank the Government and the people of (Ro) Korea for financing the construction of this road, as well as the inauguration of this road. There are two or three roads under construction, Road 48 that connecting national road 4 to Sre Ambel to Koh Kong town, national road 2 is under construction from Phnom Penh to Takeo and national road 22 is under construction […]

Location and Construction Options of Cambodia-Korea Friendship Bridge

I think, today, I should speak in front of you here, but more importantly, the people all over the country, and notably, the people of Phnom Penh, about the location and options we have for building a Cambodia-Korea friendship bridge. There is some talks going on. Apparently, the news spread was correct. Since it is not coming from Prime Minister Hun Sen’s mouth, people may have little faith in it, though. I would like to confirm that the Korean friends have agreed with us on the study and are ready to provide financial support and grants for the construction of the bridge. According to the study, we have various options and locations to consider […]

I also talked to President Moon Jae-in during my last visit to Korea, asking him to support the project and he promised to review it. It is our hope that the newly elected president will continue to support this project. Normally, what approved by the former president, the successive president will not cancel. I strongly hope he will support the project. There are a number of locations to decide where the bridge will be. The two main locations, however, that we looked at are – the first is the bridge will be standing one side at Chroy Changvar across the Mekong River to Svay Chrum on another side of the Mekong. What caught our mind then was that the bridge would not help alleviate traffic congestion in Chroy Changva.

Another location presented is for the bridge to go from the night market, the Old Market Park in Phnom Penh, across the Tonle Sap River and then to stand down at Chroy Changvar, that is one bridge. Next, there is a second bridge to go from Chroy Changva to Arey Ksat – the eastern side of the Mekong River. We have two bridges then […] two bridges mean they help solve the existing congestion at the Chroy Changvar bridges […]

The other choice related is we will build a suspension bridge using steel cables with no pillars (in the middle). For the first bridge, we need to have open space river for boat race. We cannot have pillars in the river. On the other hand, for a second bridge, we have to think about waterway traffic, sometimes at night. There was an incident at the Prek Tamak Bridge last time where a ferry loaded with sand caught leaning against the pillars. I have asked President Moon Jae-in and the current Speaker of the RoK National Assembly to support the project.

I told HE Moon Jae-in if we were to have such bridge built in Phnom Penh, it would become an attraction for both local and foreign tourists. The bridge is modern because besides no pillars in the river, they are twin bridges – one bridge on one side, and another bridge on the other side […] that is the benefit of establishing diplomatic ties between Cambodia and the Republic of Korea, which I myself had striven to do.

Cambodia-RoK Diplomatic Relations, Trade Volume Increases, More Workers

I am very proud to have been the founder of the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Cambodia and the Republic of Korea. If there is no progress in relations, people may blame me. As we have witnessed it now, no one can blame me. On the contrary, it is a matter of pride that Hun Sen has chosen (such) a diplomatic solution. We have relations with North Korea. We also have relations with South Korea […] both Koreas joined the United Nations in 1991, when SNC Cambodia took the Cambodian seat at the United Nations. At that time, I said that we must recognize both Koreas equally. Unfortunately, we procrastinated a bit, but it is better to be slow than never. We did it and the relations between the two countries is quite advanced.

I would like to emphasize that, in the trade, Cambodia’s first two months of exports in 2022, increased by more than 30 percent of total exports, and with RoK alone, it has increased by 33 percent. Exports from Cambodia to Korea increased by 33%. The Cambodian side has ratified the Cambodia-Korea Free Trade Agreement, and I have asked both the Speaker of the RoK National Assembly and President Moon Jae-in to complete their internal procedures as soon as possible so that we can start promoting trade between Cambodia and Korea, concurrently with the entry into force of RCEP […]

This is the benefit of cooperation. For the number of Cambodians working in Korea, which is currently 45,000, I have asked for more number of Cambodian workers to come work in Korea. (By working in Korea) our people not only send home money, but also bring back technology and skills related to the development of our nation […]

I am dreaming of walking on and/or riding on the Cambodia-Korea Friendship Bridge, which connects the night market at Phsa Chas to Chroy Changvar and from Chroy Changvar to Arey Ksat […] with a high cable-stayed bridge with no pillars. We need an open space river on this side for boat race in water festival time […] at the point that Covid-19 becomes a common cold, we will resume water festival’s boat race. Take good care of the racing boats […] there may come a time that I will allow boat race in the provinces first. It is not an urgent priority, though […]

I would like to thank all stakeholders in this cooperation – not only between Cambodia and Korea, and not just us, but also with the construction companies that built this road. My thanks go to KOICA. We commend the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, as well as the local authorities, especially to people affected by the construction and who are working together to make this road a reality. For this road, we have at certain point two lanes to and two lanes from, otherwise one lane to and one lane from, and creates a good transport network, in addition to preparing the foundation to prevent riverbank landslides […]

Domestic and External Work Schedules, Support No Acts of Aggression

This afternoon I have one more schedule to preside over the closing of the agricultural annual review conference. My work schedules from now until the 4th (of April) seem to be full […] this year, I will go for some events abroad. After the Khmer New Year, I will go to Japan to attend the Water Summit […] and in May, I will attend the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. Well, there will be as many schedules abroad as domestics. Certainly, some work we must attend to […]

This morning, I sent out an order. I do not know if the receiver has seen it […] there is a message coming in from the ASEAN Chair’s Special Envoy. Maybe he is now on his flight back […] he is visiting Myanmar. This morning, I saw a message asking for advice on whether to vote for or abstain or to vote against […] I sent them my voice message […] telling our representative to vote as we did at the United Nations. Someone asked us to abstain on Russia and Ukraine issue […] we have made our position clear. What would be the line of our foreign policy? We do not vote abstention. We do not support any aggression act from one country to another. That is our firm position […] everywhere, wherever there is going to be decision regarding the Russian-Ukraine war, we vote against the aggression and against use of force […]

Support Peace Talks and Pour No Gasoline on Fire

[…] (Voice chat on play). We have representation. We have 11 votes. Some asked us to abstain. No. We will give all 11 votes (to against), because this is not a small thing. The story creates a bad habit in the world where the strong beats the weak. If the strong beats us in the future, who would help us? It is that regard that we must adhere to a specific principle […] this is not a joke. Human life in the world. Now the unrest has reached Cambodia […] gasoline prices go up. No one can avoid it. Covid-19 […] caused less danger than the war between Russia and Ukraine. It is now beginning to spread its effects worldwide. The serious thing is that if you do not hurry to end it, no one can fathom how far the world would go. Would the world go to World War III or not, and/or to nuclear war or not? Of course, no one dares to predict how far it will go. We call for a ceasefire and for negotiations to end the war and to work for ceasefire. (Solving problem by) military aspect is very difficult. We provide support (to the effort) that brings peace. We also do not pour gasoline on the fire […]

Future Beautiful Cambodia-Korea Bridges Attract Tourists

His Excellency the Ambassador, as I said, please help encourage (construction) the bridge from the night market to Chroy Changva and from Chroy Changva to Arey Ksat. That means we are not building one bridge. We are building two bridges – one across the Tonle Sap River and the other across the Mekong River. That is the bridge of Cambodia-Korea friendship. His Excellency President Moon Jae-in will leave office in May. Well, the new president will continue. We hope (Korea will continue to study the construction of the two bridges) […] I am asking KOICA representative here to push for support related to the construction of (both) bridges. We made decision based on choices that KOICA offered. That location is where we wanted to be and […] making Phnom Penh a place people wanted to visit. They wanted to see the bridge […]./.