Selected Comments Samdech Techo Hun Sen at the Inauguration of the Cambodian-Chinese Friendship Bridge Koh Thom [Unofficial Translation]

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New Achievements on Land

… I am so glad to be able to return and be with you all once again after my presence here on 25 March 2013 for the launching of construction of the bridge, and on 8 August 2016, for connecting the last section of the bridge. I called on the bridge builders to allow our people to use the bridge to cross the river on the Phjum Ben day. Today I am here again to put the meters bridge into official use. I am so happy to see new achievements taking place on our land. I am ever happier to see that among us here to use the bridge are people who have gone through the time of wars and genocide. I surely hope that your grandchildren will accompany you to cross the bridge in one way or the other. The river width here is small – only 415 meters but the bridge that we have built stretches almost two Kilometers […]

I would take this opportune moment to express my sincere appreciation and thanks for the Ministry of Public Works and Transports, the Ministry of Economy and Finance as well, the local authorities at every level, for the efforts, and collaboration they made with the Chinese Road and Bridge Construction Corporation to achieve this marvelous construction. I also take this opportune moment to thank our people residing along the project site for their understanding and patience to put up with impacts on both sides of the bridge. Today, I will surely cross the bridge from this side the other side and will not return. Who would want to follow me may do so. I will travel on the other side to see Ta Lun, Troey Sla, Svay Proteal, etc.[…]

Benefits of the Bridge of Koh Thom

Let me come back to talking about the bridge. The bridge here is indeed a great benefit for those who reside in the construction area of Koh Thom district directly but also for other people’s interest. We have built the bridge for the sake of serving our people’s need. Those of you born here or have lived here would not have imagined that we would have at this point a bridge at your disposal here. If you have long visions, maybe, there would only be a few of you. To say it in a different way, if it were not for Prime Minister Hun Sen, there may not be a bridge at Koh Thom. Well, some people think of becoming Prime Minister but they never know what rural people’s hardships are. That the Prime Minister Hun Sen has built it, it is a true thing … not an example […]

I would take this chance to express my sincere thanks for the contribution made by our Chinese friend in financing the construction of the bridge across the Bassac River. As mentioned by HE Ambassador Xiong Bo in his speech, our Chinese friends have built 2,500 kilometers of bridges and roads (in Cambodia). The time when human had to carry bicycles over their shoulders had gone. I am taking this time to express my regret to the people in Sa Ang district about our speedy effort to build the National Road 21, which will connect the Kandal provincial town to the border with Vietnam. On my way here, I noticed people have had to wear masks because of the dusty chalky soil. Before soon, when the road is done, you will have a better life.

I travelled this road in 2007, if not 2006, during the Khmer New Year, all the way to the border with Vietnam. Nobody knew about it. I did not stop and had a tradition game with our people. Noticing conditions of the roads, we have urged a negotiation with the Republic of Korea to get on with the road construction. We also sped up negotiation with Vietnam for the construction of a bridge at the border, for which each side shared half of the cost. Connecting inside the country and connectivity with neighboring countries and in the region is not a separate policy of Cambodia. It is also a policy that is covering in the whole region, especially that of the HE Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, about “one belt, one road” (OBOR) or the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, for which on 14 – 15 May, there will be a senior level meeting in Beijing. I will also be present.

Without connectivity, we could do nothing. As for Cambodia, our road from Takhmao of Kandal to the border with Vietnam, there are about 70 bridges. The problem with this is that farmers would be happy to have water for their cultivation. That is the case of Sa Ang, Koh Thom, or people residing on either side of a river, and in this case the Bassac River. There are many creeks. They are doing the work of bringing water and silt into the lake at flooding time and bringing the fish along to the river through creeks at recession time. They are good for life. However, as far as traveling is concerned, the road cuts off in sections (because of the creeks between river and lakes behind residential area) as there are no durable bridges. People residing in dry area have good roads and those living in seasonal flooding area have connectivity difficulty.

RGC to Continue the Four Priorities

We must find financial resource from other sources to achieve both things – we will allow our people to go on reaping benefits from creeks and waterways along the rivers of Mekong and Bassac. We must build more bridges. I think by the end of this year perhaps we will have better road and bridges through the area. I wish to reaffirm that the policy of the Cambodian People’s Party and/or the Royal Government that I am leading is to continue to give priorities to four areas – both soft and hard.

Firstly, we are focusing on human resource, for which we have invested enormously in education to make sure that our children and youth will acquire knowledge for national development. We have increased budget for the construction of schools from primary to university. Secondly, we are focusing on transport infrastructure such as bridges, roads, rail, seaport, and airports, etc. We will not waste money on anything else but infrastructures. Thirdly, we are focusing on making sure our people have access to water for consumption and irrigation. Fourthly, ensuring adequate electricity – from hydropower, coal or other renewable source such as solar, will continue to be our priority.

The four priorities setout was from 1987 and as of this year, it has been our adherence for 30 years now. They have proven to be correct for the past 30 years and I think they will be for another 30 years. In the past, we ordered them to be water, roads, electricity, and human resource. Now, we are placing human resource as the leading priority.

It has been a good thing that we have coordinated our rectangular policy in a way that corresponds with the five years plan of our Chinese friend, like its OBOR, where connectivity has been providing our people with chance to progress.

Connectivity Is for Making Profit

We are building the National Road 21. When our people produce something, they could not sell them anywhere. How could they transport them? When the road is ready, we will solve those problems. Talking about exporting and importing with neighboring countries, we must have connectivity so that trade between one another is viable. Talking about trade one must think about making profit. Take for instance, China. It is a big country and depending only on local trade for supply to various parts of the country is difficult. Some part of China would be more profitable to have supply form neighboring countries like Cambodia, Vietnam, or Thailand, etc.

Take the provinces of Guangxi, Yunnan, Hainan, for example. Supply from Southeast Asian countries would be economical than from other parts of China where the distance from one another could be thousands of Kilometers. Take an example on Cambodia’s case. Some people criticized me for allowing import of tiles from other countries. Would you think together with me how much firewood would we need to burn tiles? Other countries make tiles from coal energy. They could do it for a lower price than we would do otherwise in our countries, in addition to destroying our forest. We would reverse our thinking when we have the means to do it environmentally friendly and at a lower price.

Electricity from National Line Will Be Lower Price

… As for electricity, please allow me to inform you that those who have their electric line connected to the national line, starting from 1st April, they will pay 610 Riel/KWH for consumption of 50 KWH and below, and 480 Riel/KWH for consumption of 10 KWH and below. While bringing the price of electricity down, we are in the process of increasing salary for teachers and civil servants. I am sure there will soon be some who would argue that they would bring the price down further should they win the elections. It is coming …

Peace – Important Factor

I have spoken on various occasions that we must hold in hands what we have. We must not let go. Letting go in the past, we had lost our chance, time, and human lives. While the country was in peace, some people could not satisfy and toppled Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk. That had brought about flame of war in the country, with the genocidal regime followed. The problems had taken many human generations to resolve to achieve peace as we have today. That is why I am insisting that we must hold on to peace. I have warned that shadow could look bigger than the reality. Beware of those who would make empty promises. At whatever price, Cambodia must keep peace and will not forgive whoever would do anything to take peace away. Those who would think of launching color revolution, should reconsider, that will not be a joke and harmful to human lives.

Should One Create Problem, One Must Be Responsible

Today, I have made another case. As of now, the lawyer could have been present at the court already. A man made accusation that the Cambodian People’s Party killed so and so. I am asking for half a million in compensation or his/her property for sale to pay for it. I urge police to follow him/her up so that s/he would not flee to other countries. Another person already fled (from another case). It is speechless to say that CPP killed people. Who would gain from such killing, when CPP is in power? I would suggest that they do not flatter themselves in politics. With a microphone, one should not just make flaw analysis attacking everyone […]

Some seem to have nothing useful to do but to scold in Facebook. When we bring the case to court, they say we always use legal way to deal with them. If they just do not harm other people, who would do so? Like the one that we bring the case to court today, he said on Radio Free Asia that the Cambodian People’s Party killed Kem Ley. One senator already fled the country for accusation. We have the right to demand compensation but the court has its decision to make. Our country is making progress. Please do not create problem, should you do, please be responsible.

Benefits of the Koh Thom Bridge

We must be ensuring the rule of law. However, I am appealing that we must have peace in order to develop the country. Classified as one of the countries ensuring steadfast economic growth – 7% per annum, Cambodia is one of the high economic growth countries in the region. Not many countries have maintained growth of 7% and above. In Asia, we have countries that scored 5% to 7%, and below 5%. While China’s economy came down to 6.7% from 8-9%, Cambodian economy continues to attain 7% growth. We will invest more on human resource, roads, water, and electricity […]

I hope that the bridge will offer chance for our people to transport their products from one side to the other and vice versa. We used ferryboat before. It was difficult at night, especially when there are healthcare issues, for instance, women in labor. Now that we have bridge, we can be on the other side of the river any time we need to. Someone commented in my Facebook to have another bridge built at Sa Ang district and complained that the ferryboat owners do not abide by what instructed in the logbooks. We will build more. It is just a matter of when and which one to build first.

Hope China Not Intervene for the Accused

… All I am asking is that everyone respect each other in politics. Should they not respect and make abusive accusations, they must be responsible at least in form of civil or criminal misconducts. Accusing someone to have killed someone else is an act of instigation and a crime punishable by imprisonment and compensation. The person studied in China. I hope China would not intervene. I would not want China to do the way the US do. The US would always intervene for anyone who studies in his county. Let us be frank, law is law. I would say it out frankly to China […]

Claiming, Abandoning, Restoring, and Fighting for Land

… The major issue here is to keep peace. Without peace, there is no hope for development. Many of us here could have remembered what happened in the time of war. We lost chance, and everything else. In Cambodia, there are four stages – people claimed land, abandoned the newly claimed land, restored land, and are fighting for land. Toward the last part of Sangkumreastrniyum time, people claimed land to develop agriculture. However, people abandoned the newly claimed land when the US bombarded Cambodia. Under Pol Pot, they transformed into state land. After the liberation, the state hired people to claim land. Now, we have cases of people fighting one another for land […]

Do not Get Killed for Traffics

I have the same appeal that HE Sun Chanthol (Minister of Public Works and Transports) did. Please do not get yourself killed or maimed on roads because of over-speeding, respecting no traffic rule, and drink driving. I hope that is not much to ask […]./.