Selected Comments Samdech Moha Bovor Thipadei Hun Manet, at the river closing ceremony of the Tatai Leu hydropower (150 MW) [Unofficial excerpts and translations]

CMF:

(1) The development of the electricity sector depends on two factors – first, a favorable environment and second, the right policy

In his report, HE Keo Rattanak highlighted the progress of our electricity sector, which has been present in our country since 1906. By this time, we have made a lot of progress. I would like to commend the Ministry of Mines and Energy, as well as the Electricity of Cambodia, and relevant networks, both public and private, for their efforts in contributing to the expansion of coverage. In the report of His Excellency Keo Rattanak, just now, as you have heard, our progress so far depends on two major factors – the first is the favorable environment, and the second is the right policy. What is a favorable environment? The biggest favorable environment is peace and stability.

When I am talking about peace and stability, some people accuse me of (holding on to leadership method of a) dictatorship. (But let me ask) if there were no peace, would it be possible for us to climb through a concrete road and sit on a mountain – Phnom Reah, as we just did. Originally, not to mention a source of energy to help develop the villages and communes in Russey Chrum […] if we look at the history for this place, […] from 1970 to 1975, it was a place to gather and hide the troops from the Lon Nol’s troop’s destructive effort. From 1975 to 1979, it was a hideout where the senior resistant leaders such as Say Phu Thong and Samdech Pichey Sena Tea Banh mobilized resistant forces. It was a place where the Khmer Rouge sought after (the resistance). Even after 1979, it was still a place of fighting. There are not many people living here because of Khmer Rouge’s firing activities […]

That we can celebrate this event today is the result of peace. We need to remember the important people who worked hard to realize our goal to transform the war-torn country and end the war […] what we can accomplish here is the testimony […]

(2) Due to the war, infrastructures went backwards until 1998

Speaking of the energy sector […] the country started to produce electricity in 1906 and the effort had continued during the Sangkum Reasnyum era […] although not yet covering as much as 98% of the country, we noticed there were a lot of works accomplished at that time. We had The Electricity Cambodia working. Due to the war, the country’s infrastructure went backwards till 1998. At that time​​, there was no infrastructure like we have now. It was very fragmented and dilapidated. No matter if you are in Koh Kong,​ Thmar Bang, Russey Chrum, even in Phnom Penh there was no electricity for 24 hours […] if peace does not prevail, there is no favorable condition and what was built before would melt, and went backward […]

When there is peace […] we will have concrete achievements […] and the actual one is the fact that (we have been able to change the) power supply in 1998, which was only 150 MW nationwide, […] to 4,495 MW in 2022, according to figures provided […] we have built a national substation transmission system that was not in existence in 2008, […] and some 90,000 km of distribution lines from high voltage lines […]

(3) Let us be called a dictator than being incompetent and letting war break out

One media (posted) an old timer (opposition saying) the Cambodian government is pursuing a demagogical approach. Whatever the government is doing is just for publicity, and it is not real. I would advise him to go ask millions of people who come to enjoy the Water Festival in Phnom Penh whether the crowd was just for filming? […] the 89,000 kilometer (high voltage line) is a factual achievement. People have real access to electricity […] (the provision of electricity) has now covered some 98% of the villages throughout the country. There are 3,280,000 houses with access to electricity […] it is a quantifiable achievement […]

Every time the government says it determines to maintain peace and stability at all costs, (the opposition) always says that (in doing so the government) is a dictatorship. If our determination to keep the peace and stability are accused of being a dictator, I think I would let them call me so rather the people call me the incapable who let the war happen and (killing) returns […] I do not want the people to name the government of the seventh legislative term, which (continues to manage and protect the achievements of the previous) governments that strives to unite the nation (incapable of maintaining peace) […]

(4) Continue to develop electricity/energy sector with three responsibilities

Now, the energy sector development policy, and here we are working on electricity, has continued with three responsibilities […] whereas the first responsibility is to promote the lives of people across the country and to move the economy forward, […] the second is to consider the impact on the environment, human and animals, […] and the third is being one of the countries on the face of this earth, Cambodia participates in caring for the environment, especially to help prevent in the global climate change […]

The first responsibility is that the Royal Government has the duty to set goals to continue to promote national economic growth, reduce poverty, and increase the living standards of the people throughout the country […] from a war-torn country to a country with complete peace, from a place where its people were unstable and without peace into a place where people can develop, live and prosper. From a poor country with bare hands from 40 years ago to a country with a low middle income. We aim to become a high middle income and rich country by 2050 to improve the lives of people […]

Regarding the development of the electricity sector […] we aim to boost electricity not only to solve the need to charge the phone but for children to study at night, rather than burning kerosene. It will be easier to have electricity for every work than to depend on generator […] so, electricity is responding to the need for living and for expanding development in all areas […]

Being energy secured and energy independent are the goals that we set out and move towards. Energy security ensures that we can produce our own energy when needed […] this energy security is very important for people and for the economy as it provides a stable supply […] that would not leave us prone to energy price fluctuation just because there are wars elsewhere. That is because we do not have electricity that we produce in our country. We are trying to avoid that hiccup from happening, especially by constructing hydropower plants, which is a source (energy) produced locally and ensure stability. In recent years, when our neighboring countries raise oil prices, we were trying to do two things – firstly, to ensure plenty of electricity production, and secondly, to maintain a reasonable price […]

His Excellency Keo Rattanak (mentioned that) we are able to lower (the price to) encourage – (although) not much, for a period of three months – for some agricultural and industrial enterprises. We are looking into the possibility of lowering (electricity prices) in the field related to tourism to encourage consumption. Asked if the state will lose or gain from doing that? […] in addition to the loss incurred this year, the state has planned another US$ 100 million as subsidies […] to keep the cost of electricity stable for people […] the state is willing to lose so that people can get lower electricity prices […]

That countries raised the price of electricity we have tried to keep (the prices where they are) and the state is willing to lose by implementing the first goal to help people’s livelihoods so that they do not have difficulties […], and second, to help maintain the stability of economic development in every sector that may work well should the electricity price is low […]

(5) Principles and six-points plan to promote the electricity sector

We have five key priorities – people, roads, water, electricity and technology. Electricity is important for its supporting role. Therefore, for the seventh legislative term, the Royal Government has set out a policy to continue the development of the electricity sector as followed:

First, to promote the development of the electricity sector to ensure that all parts of Cambodia have adequate electricity supply. I request the Ministry of Mines and Electricity of Cambodia and the Electricity Authority of Cambodia to find ways to supply electricity to the more than 1% of villages that do not yet have access to electricity before 2030 […]

Second, to modernize the provision of services to customers to use electricity to be more modern, easier to get services, consistency, price reduction, payment is also easier. Do not let this incident happen – while the price is going down, but it is difficult to do payment […]

Third, to examine the possibility of providing preferential prices and lowering the price of electricity for the people. So far, we have done a lot – from (the price of electricity was at) thousands of riels to now hundreds […]

Fourth, to promote Cambodia’s participation in the energy transition towards a carbon neutral society in line with current global trends […]

Fifth, to promote the participation of the private sector in the investment and business of providing electricity services, […] and

Sixth, to strengthen and expand international cooperation both inside and outside the region in the energy sector […]

(6) Study and figure out long-term impacts of hydropower construction

The second responsibility is to take into account the impacts on environment and human in the hydropower developed areas in our country […] in fact, each hydropower project, with careful planning before taking shape, from start to finish, will take 18 years […] why is that so? It takes two to four years to take into account the environmental impacts […] the results of investment, productivity, economy and society to the people, how it fits with the negative impacts on the people and how to help them. Some places take years to study […]

After that, it is the negotiating phase about technical matters. How to build it to reduce the impact. Negotiate financial matters on how to help people provide electricity at an affordable price, not at a price that is difficult to obtain for the people. So, it would spend at least another four to five years before the actual construction starts. In total, it would take 18 years to get a hydropower up and going […]

(7) No construction of hydropower along the Mekong River; 33 km of electricity network for people in 3 communes

In the sixth legislative term (under the leadership of) Samdech Techo, the Royal Government decided not to build hydropower on the Mekong River. No matter how favorable the location, we will not do it […] so as not to have ecological impacts along the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers […] the Royal Government of the 7th legislative term will continue to implement the principle of not building and developing any hydropower along the Mekong River […] we need electricity for our growth, but look for places where construction has a manageable impact. Of course, construction anywhere has an impact […]

The Royal Government through Electricite du Cambodge (EDC) will promote the extension of the network to the people in Ta Tai commune on the border of Pralay commune in Thmar Bang district, where we have invested more than 800,000 USD on 33 km of network to supply electricity to people’s homes. We did not build it in 2015 because of people’s worriedness (instigated by) a group of environmental activists, including foreigners, saying, “do not trust the government, to no avail, leave it as is, stay the way you are, use the generator” […] however, before the election in the middle of 2023, Electricite du Cambodge (EDC) reported to the government that the people from these three communes – Tatai Leu, Chumnuab and Pralay communes “wanted” (the power supply) […] the government decided to provide at the people’s request (the power grid of) 33 km to supply the electricity to the above three communes soon […]

The Khmer proverb goes “late is better than never” and it is true, isn’t it? We had lost peace for 500 years. It had protracted our efforts in nation building. As of this moment, we have realized (peace and basic development). In this regard, to have peace after 500 years of war is a chance that we long for, and better than never. Now, let’s take care of it together. Energy as well […] please take care, support and benefit from that to develop and grow the household economy […] let us make Thmar Bang district a prosperous one, a district with touristic potential, and other developments […] do not let the district be an inaccessible area and/or hideout where people escape the killings of the 1970s, and sending troops to fight and chase each other until 1997 and 1998. Make it a place where people can travel in and out, to have outsiders to visit and insiders to go abroad […]

(8) As one of the countries in the world, Cambodia implements the policy of building electricity that reduces the impact on climate change

Third is the responsibility for the global environment, which we call climate change. In fact, one of the components of global warming is the release of greenhouse gases through the world’s many factories, which increases temperatures by more than 1.5 degrees per year. (We have to take due actions) in order to prevent the Arctic ice from melting too fast that it would not flood different areas. We cannot make a fence or make a room for Cambodia separately […] Cambodia is very small. Cambodia emits very little greenhouse gas […] but as a responsible member of the world, Cambodia participates in the implementation of policies to build electricity to reduce the impact of climate change […] Cambodia is responsible for economic growth and people’s livelihoods throughout the country as well as for the environment, both natural resources and animals in the development areas in the country, and contribute to ensuring the environment and global climate […]

(9) Five major tasks for the energy sector transition

For this seventh term, on October 11, one month ago, I assigned the Ministry of Mines and Energy to coordinate the transition of the energy sector on five major tasks. First, to promote the implementation of energy efficiency in accordance with the National Policy on Energy Efficiency 2022-2030, which the Royal Government has implemented and in accordance with the planned action. Second, stop the development of coal-fired power plants and examine the possibility of having the existing coal-fired power plants to stop operating early in Cambodia […] this November 2023, I have decided to stop the project to develop coal-fired power plants – a 700-megawatt power plant in Botum Sakor, Koh Kong province, which has been studied a lot […] and discussed widely to change the feasibility of this project from coal to LNG […]

Third, update the master plan to increase the use of renewable energy […] fourth, to promote the use of electric vehicles or EVs, which have two main benefits […] first, the use of energy by electric motors is more efficient than fuel motors […] I have asked (the Minister of Mines and Energy) HE Keo Rattanak to study a prototype project in Phnom Penh with tricycles drivers. In the near future, if they can use it, the environment will be good, the price will be guaranteed, the energy consumption will be reduced, and they will reduce their expenses […]

(10) Cambodia strives to generate electricity from renewable to 70% of all sources by 2030

Today our team went to the COP28 conference in Dubai, Saudi Arabia – the Global Conference on “Climate Change”. Cambodia is proud to be able to announce there the progress and achievements that Cambodia has made so far. We have now reached 62% of our electricity produced from renewable sources […] we are committed to take the figure to at least 70% by 2030. The world is also interested in investing in countries that implement favorable principles to participate in protecting the environment. Please take (our electricity generation project from) this source to attract foreign investment, including investment from China, to create economic growth, employment for the people and maintain this growth for the benefit of the people to grow equitably and sustainably. For the above five tasks, I request the relevant ministries and institutions to cooperate and coordinate as much as possible with the Ministry of Mines and Energy in order to achieve the goal, especially in 2030 so that the energy that comes from the renewable source will reach no less than 70% for our country to become a clean energy destination for tourism and investment […]./.

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