Selected Comments Samdech Moha Bovor Thipadei Hun Manet, at the meeting with workers, employees and civil servants of Sihanoukville Autonomous Port on the occasion of the 138th Anniversary of International Labor Day, May 1, 2024 [Unofficial and translations]


(1) Ministries, institutions, authorities and armed forces ready to intervene in case of fire and water shortage

I am so happy (especially) when we came back and meet after we met more than 4 months ago to inaugurate the construction of the first phase expansion of our port […] these days the temperature is quite hot. It is not just us Cambodia but (it is heating up) in the world. I have instructed the ministries and professional institutions to take precautionary measures, especially the local authorities, about firstly the incident of fire, and secondly, shortage of water, especially water for consumption […] and, according to the meteorology, it seems to be sure that by early May, there will be rain and we did have rain in some provinces now […]

(2) If the weather is harsh, the Ministry of Education should change the study time, check the water and food consumptions and suspend the study temporarily

I have advised the Ministry of Education […] especially in schools for young children, if any day the temperature soars to above 40 degrees, they may decide about – firstly, the study time, to have a break especially between 10am to 2pm; […] (secondly) water and food consumptions; and (thirdly), if necessary, the right for the school management to decide, if the temperature soars above 40 degrees, unfavorable in the study, to suspend the study that day […] Some students, I saw on some Facebook posting, covered their heads with wet towels […] and sit for hours in class. That was not a good thing. On a hot day, the board should suspend students’ study time because it is not profitable […]


(3) Cargo lifting reaching and beyond port capacity shows potential and competitiveness

(Chairman and CEO of the Sihanoukville autonomous port) HE Lou Kimchhun reported that according to its standard, the port has a container capacity of more than 550,000 TEUs per year, while transit cargo reached more than 790,000 TEUs, an addition of more than 50% of its capacity […] now that our port has reached and even overreached its capacity shows that we have potential and competitiveness […] In 2023, according to our report, the business budget revenue increased by 5.42% to 95 million US dollars. In terms of annual growth, we have 1,506 ships coming in, an increase of more than 4%, but the cargo volume increased by 35.42% […]

(4) Ports increase the economy and revenue for the state and act as a driving force to promote various sectors to grow

The ports play an important role not only as a gateway and a place to increase the economy and increase revenue for the state, but also as a mechanism to help promote various sectors and the national economy […] it promotes economic growth by reducing costs of transportation […] Globally, water transport has recorded more than 90% of cargo because it is cheap […] Water transport helps expand the competitiveness of the agro-industrial sector, and even the agricultural products exports […]

(5) A good location without vision, policy and right action cannot bring good results

In the report of (the Minister of Public Works and Transports,) there is an expert assessment that this port is at the best location. We have issued licenses for saltwater ports Level 1 and Level 2 in 8 locations, but this site has the best natural location potential […] It can create/expand port activities and activities for the coastal area of Sihanoukville as a basis for the development of industry, manufacturing and other sectors, in addition to tourism. However, (even standing at) a really good location, (we) would not be able to exercise creativity and/or innovations if we do not have the right vision, policy and right actions so as to bring in more benefits […]

(6) Sihanouk Autonomous Port’s Three challenges – shallow water depth, limited storage space, and not yet fully connected with other transportation systems

[…] We have restored and expanded the port capacity a lot, but it is still limited […] The first challenge here is (the waterway) that is still shallow. We have deepened it to only 13 meters in depth, and the ships that can come in are using nine meters depth and more than 40,000 tons. Only 18% of the cargo ships can enter the port directly […] 82% have to transfer to smaller ships abroad […]; secondly, the storage space is limited […] and we have no choice but to put the retail goods and containers goods together […]; and thirdly, there is no full interconnection with other transportation systems, either land, sea and air […] while there are many businesses, we do not have ability to expand potential enough to attract guests yet […]

(7) Turning Sihanoukville Autonomous Port into a regional port and logistics hub

Many small countries, such as Singapore and Hong Kong, use ports as a driving force for much of their economies. I think the port of Sihanoukville not only increases revenue on the spot, but can also be a catalyst for economic growth in Sihanoukville, the coastal region and the country as a whole. Therefore, we must be very ambitious that by 2050, not only will this port be Cambodia’s deep-sea port, but we must do our best to become a regional port and a regional logistics hub […] I talked to His Excellency the Prime Minister of Japan Kishida and asked Japan to help conduct techincal study. JICA worked on that. The master plan for development in stages is under development […]

(8) Three-stage expansion transforms SAP from a feeder port to a hub port

In 1956 we built this deep water port […] in 2023, we launched the first-phase expansion. By 2029, we will complete this three-step expansion that will allow ships from all over the world to enter and exit directly. By that time, we would be digging the water depth to 17 meters. The port plans to expand not only by 2029, but all the way to 2050 […] On December 22, we hit the groundbreaking of the first phase of port expansion, which will be completed in 2026, […] by which time we would be able to welcome 93% of ships to come in. The fact that we would be able to host 93% instead of now 18% is not normal. This means that most ships do not have to go through Singapore to tansfer goods […] The second step is between 2025-2028, when we will deepen the water depth to 16 and a half meters, allowing 100% ships from the Asia-Pacific region to enter our port […]; and the third step is for 2026-2029, and by 2029, the water depth will be 17 and a half meters, allowing not only ships in Asia Pacific, but also those from the United States, Europe into Cambodia directly […]

(9) Japan leads the development of Sihanoukville port, the second country to help Cambodia strengthen infrastructure

Let me take this opportunity to thank the Government of Japan in the presence of HE Ambassador here. Japan is a leading country helping Cambodia to develop the port of Sihanoukville and the second country to assist in strengthening the physical infrastructure of roads and bridges. Japan has helped Cambodia a lot in socio-economic development in all fields. In the 8 months since I become (the Prime Minister, HE Ambassador and I have been working together a lot) […] Tomorrow we will meet again at Toyota factory, the Japanese car assembly plant in Cambodia […] we inaugurated the National Road No. 5, built with a loan from Japan, the water purification facility at Choeung Ek, last week in Siem Reap, a center for surgery, and we are planning to promote the construction of regional health centers in Siemreap and in Kampong Cham […]

(10) Hope Japan will continue to help develop a Master plan to achieve the vision of Sihanoukville Port as a logistics center and a regional hub port by 2050

On behalf of the Cambodian people, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Government of Japan and the people of Japan, especially HE the Ambassador, for his efforts in facilitating cooperation and assisting Cambodia in building the cuntry […] Cambodia was the first country that Japan sent its troops abroad to help maintain peace after World War II. Now, Japan will also continue to help prepare a master plan (for the country’s port development). Hopefully Japan will continue to help build this port to realize the vision of Sihanoukville Port to become a regional logistics center and regional deep-sea hub port by 2050 […]

(11) Promote the growth of industry, interconnectedness with other special economic zones and organize regional transshipment

Another challenge is that we have not yet used the potential of Sihanoukville Port as a driving force […] we have to use it to the fullest […] we promote industrial growth and set up interconnctedness with special economic zones to boost productivity. Last month we pushed for a transshipment zone, but as of now we are still under negotiation regarding some customs procedures […] I seek involved stakeholders expedite this process. I will have a team from my cabinet to monitor and resolve issues with the Customs, SAP, and the Ministry of Public Works andf Transpoprts, to expedite the work to ensure that every Prime Ministerial orders are breaking through. I have to keep abreast of where the instruction currently are […]

(12) Expanding the scope of the master plan for the development of 4 provinces with Preah Sihanouk province is the principal hub

Previously, we planned to develop Sihanoukville. I have isntructed an expansion of the scope of the master plan. We ask a professional company to help with the planning. I want to expand the coverage not only for Sihanoukville but also all four provinces together. Take Sihanoukville as a base, and the other three (coastal) provinces must be included in this master plan […] together not to compete (with one another). We must see as to where do we prioritize for industry,for tourism, and even agro-industry […]

(13) Improve the existing railways to ensure the transport of both people and goods

Let us not think about high-speed trains yet. They are very expensive. Leave it to another day. Let us think and work on how to improve the existing railways to ensure the transport of both people and goods […] it is urgent to work on level crossing wherever possible because so that we will not have this alarming news of “accident betwenen a train and a van” […] to the future, in medium or long term, we will build overpasses, […] where there is a lack of barriers, there must be level crossing keepers to check […] it would be doable if some places work with the district authorities on the spot to find a keeper who would be able to be at the level crossing on time […]

(14) Until 2050, no licenses will be issued for the level-1 ports

I have goven a principle a few months ago to study the strategic plan for the existing ports, which are licensed and which are planned to be developed to have an interconnectedness orientation rather than competing with each other for life, or to die altogether […] All over the world, it is not easy for ports to be close to one another because judging by the size and scale, it is not profitable […] we have the level-1 port – Sihanoukville Autonomouc Port – an international standard port, and level-2 port, which is a port that can help support and interconnected with level-1 port […] I have already provided the initial consensus principle. From now until 2050, no more licenses will be issued for the level-1 port. Let these 3 ports survive first […]

(15) Proposals for the construction of seaports other than level 1 to follow prodceure with the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MPWT)

For other types of seaports, please follow the procedure and ask the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, and the professional institutions, to study carefully, especially on business risks. If there is this an approval for a new port, we must be sure that investors and the existing ones are to be profitable. They must not compete since our market is small […] we must dare to give them orientation […] as for this port in Kampot, built with (the loan from) ADB […] the Ministry of Public Works will issue a clear explanation […] I have seen some people posting messages attacking this port matter […] the Ministry needs to grasp and explain immediately so that people are getting the truth. Do not let people think that the state is not responsible […] most of our people do not know. So, if they only hear it from one side, and we are silent, they think the criticism is true […]

(16) Build infrastructure to connect the waterways between river and sea

The interconnection of waterways between freshwater and the sea. In the map at display outside, […] the Funan-Techo Canal connects farmers in Kratie province, along the Tonle Sap, to transport goods out. Goods imported from around the world can go to Phnom Penh and to Kratie province (in the north along the Mekong River) […] The cruise line an come and stop by. They can land and take another day to ride in Phnom Penh […] and as for transporting agricultural products, I do not need to explain much, because you may know the benefits, especially the port of Sihanoukville will have an important partner – the Phnom Penh Port […] and for this place to become a logistics center, we have to have most of the goods of Cambodia come and go through this place […]

(17) Analyst: “I have never seen anything with a nationalist movement behind it like the Funan-Techo canal project”

I met an analyst. He monitors the situation in Cambodia. He said he had never seen a project with a nationalist movement behind it as the Funan-Techo canal project. Let us set aside those with different tendencies. This is in the national interest, no matter who does it. I understand that a group in the United States advertised setting up a plan to create a mechanism to reject the Funan-Techo canal. They treaded the wrong path. Millions of people across the country, young and old, understand the value of this canal and have given us their supports […]

Some people even brought out the scenarios if the company cannot find financial support anywhere. I say that with or without the participation of foreign investment, Cambodia will make this canal a real deal. Not when I am 90 years old, of course. I tell His Excellency Sun Chanthol to expedite the process to commence the project in 2024 or at the latest 2025. I have a strong hope. Either this July or August, we will sign a concession agreement. Last October, when I was in China, we already finalized an agreement framework […]

(18) No foreign military bases will be allowed on Cambodian territory

The canal is connected to many waterways […] Down the line, some goods from Vietnam, if they wanted to, could be transported via this canal out to the port and to Thailand. They are welcome. We use the canal together. We also welcome goods from Laos. Let us not link socio-economic issues with politics or the military […] Cambodia has no policy to allow a foreign military base and/or to use its country against any other countries. We are united for the benefit of the nation. We just want to be happy, as the war ended long ago […] I joined a family meal with the Sultan of Brunei the other day […] The Sultan said remembering his participation in the ASEAN Summit in 2022 […] that Cambodia’s tallest building was the seven floors hotel. Now, Cambodia has got many skyscrappers […] Samdech Techo reminded that in 1979, coming into Phnom Penh, he met only 70 people […]

(19) Cambodia will never take the regional geopolitical conflicts into its home

That was the remnant of war, and what does the war come out of. A small country, Cambodia fell into the trap of the superpowers’s war. Therefore, (learnignthis lesson) Cambodia will never ever take the regional geopolitical conflicts into its home. Cambodia will not take the choice of siding with one against another. Cambodia must be united. Hopefully, geopolitical competition will not lead to conflict or instability in the region or in the world, as it was in the 1970s and 1980s […] Cambodia wants to live in peace, and to see the light of peace, so that they can ensure more achievements […]

(20) Carrying the gene of ancestors who built thousands of temple the Cambodians maintain peace and stability to build historical achievements

Not that we are staying idle and do not help anyone. We send the blue berret troops out. We are involved in the fight against transnational and regional crimes. We help fight terrorism […] as long as we have the opportunity to chance and peace, the Cambodians, carrying the gene of our ancestors, who once were the superpowers, built thousands of temples, would just harness the biggest opportunity to maintain peace and stability at all costs so that we can continue to build historical achievements […]

(21) Attract new investors and make existing ones feeling hospitable

The other day, I told the cabinet meweting to learn from the experience here in order to prepare a way to break through […] it is important to have atrracted new investors but it is even more important to make the existing ones happy, feeling hospitable and comfortable with us. Address heir concerns. It is in this trend that for several terms, we have set up a mechanism for dialogue, consultation, mechanism between the Royal Government and the private sector, […] and I need to set up a mechanism under the Prime Minister’s Office to resolve whatever is stuck in the final step […] This group consists of people who have experience in the field, both from private sector and economists in the Ministry of Economy and Finance, all of them have the skills to work with. That does not mean they all know more than other institutions. The difference is that the institution is the one who is responsible in processing the matter, with the participation of the private sector, but the team has daily access and report to me. Leaving the meeting, they woud report to me immediately. They may ask for my advice, sometimes during the meeting. I would give through them principles and with that they may be able to remove the stumble blocks […]./.