Archive for December 8th, 2007

Thursday, 6.12.2007: Samdech Prime Minister Shows Position on Land Issues, Oil, Minerals, and Hydroelectric Energy

Posted on 8 December 2007. Filed under: Week 537 |

The Mirror, Vol. 11, No. 537

Apologies for the long delay – the manuscripts were not ready in time.

“Phnom Penh: Samdech Akak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, said, ‘How can globalization be discussed if one country imposes sanctions against an other country – what is then the meaning of globalization? Thus, isn’t it like facing a situation of cold war?’ Samdech Prime Minister said so on the morning of 5 December at the Hotel Le Royal, during the opening ceremony of a workshop on the Cambodian Trade Integration Strategy for 2007, responding to opportunities and facing challenges, which was organized by the United Nations Development Program [UNDP] in cooperation with the Ministry of Commerce.

“Samdech Prime Minister said that the situation is not normal for Cambodia: from 1979 to 1985 it had a planned economy, and from 1985 to 19991 it had a planned plus a market economy. From 1992 up to now, it is perfecting the market economy, but this is not yet finished, the process of the perfection of the economy still continues. Cambodia entered the World Trade Organization [TWO] before Vietnam and Russia because of our own efforts. [The separation between direct speech and ‘story telling’ is not clear in original, throughout.] However, we must not forget that there are so many norms and so many compromises required to serve the goals of the WTO membership. Previously we said we need to make efforts to promote our entry into the WTO by focusing on these efforts in the country. Now there are still the requirements of the WTO, and there are also urgent reforms in the country. We have to make more efforts in the country so that we can sit in the WTO. We are not accepted to sit in the WTO unless we are qualified.

“Samdech Prime Minister stressed that all depends on two aspects, which are the options for economic growth: the fields of garment exports and of tourism. But this is not enough; as for agriculture, only rice production alone is not enough. Regarding rice, if rice is still produced according to old habits, it is very clear that we will face big problems losing more trees turning forests into land for farming. Therefore our solution here is to strengthen the capacity of raising the productivity on the existing land, using irrigation techniques, and also other technologies in agriculture.

Concerning the habit of Khmers, if there are five persons in the family they must have one hectare of land; and if there are ten in a family, they must have two hectares of land. If this habit continues, it is impossible – and we should not forget that there is so much said about land issues. It is necessary to remember that land issues really exist. I acknowledge this.

There is grabbing of land by powerful officials, there is grabbing of land by rich people, but there is also grabbing of land by anarchic groups under the slogan ‘To win is to get land, to lose is to get compensation money.’ Concerning this issue, a deputy governor of Preah Vihear and some others officials have already been arrested.

Samdech Prime Minister said that the lack of land is caused by an increase of population. If you came to Cambodia maybe 28 or 29 years ago when Phnom Penh was under the genocide regime, no people were living in Phnom Penh, it was empty. Cambodia did not have even one city, it did not have a currency, and it did not have markets. Cambodia was not like it is now. Nowadays Phnom Penh has traffic jams, as a worst case example. It is now completely different from before.

“Samdech Prime Minister recalled his meeting with the director of the department for Southeast Asia of the Asian Development Bank by saying that several months ago, the orientation of thinking changed from spending of money from oil – which is the experience of Nigeria – to turning to getting money from oil. In Cambodia, we cannot think about spending money while the oil is still under the ground under the seabed, but we are already accused of corruption. What we have to do is to negotiate with those companies, so that they share lots of benefits with Cambodia – that is the way of looking for money successfully. We should not yet decide which fish are to be grilled and which fish are to be cooked as soup, as they are still in the water. Now we have to find ways to catch fish, and many fish.

“Samdech said that now we will, on 14 January, inaugurate a cement factory in Kampot which has high a capacity that can replace imports, and we will continue to use this cement for construction. So far, other counties have produced cement for decades, they have used up nearly all raw materials. Therefore Samdech Prime Minister told the Singaporean ambassador to consider importing cement from Cambodia to Singapore, because there is a lot of construction going on there.

“Concerning an iron factory in Rovieng district, a study shows a possible output of 300 million tonnes. If we produce only 3 million tonnes per year, we can produce for 100 years. As for bauxite, Australia provided primary data for Mondolkiri. Samdech Prime Minister rejected considerations of conservationists putting conservation over development. Samdech choses development, ‘Though it is a conservation area, it still has to be developed; don’t worry too much!’

Samdech Hun Sen observed also critically that climate change does not happen because of small Cambodia, while big countries release smoke into the air and poison the air; is this not clear?

“Samdech reminded his audience that at an ASEAN conference he had said that it is very unfair that many benefits go to big countries that release smoke… as for small countries, they get blamed; if they create just a little pollution, others start to shout at them. Some countries cut almost all trees for their own development, but now they ban those who cut just a small portion: now it is prohibited here and there. What Cambodia does based on Khmer sovereignty should not cause too much surprise.

“Samdech Prime Minister had strongly opposed the listing of the Cardamom Mountains as a World Heritage Site, because it is a place for the construction of hydroelectric plants which are an electricity battery for Cambodia. These things belong to the Khmers, so their use is to be discussed – such as the Tonle Sesant and Tonle Srae Pok river areas, which are all places for the construction of hydroelectric plants, ‘We have to do it …. Big investments cannot be made if there were no markets. We produce things, we sell them to Vietnam, and Vietnam sells things to Cambodia. As for Battambang and Siem Reap, they have already done it also – one company invests in the construction of electricity supplies while Thailand sells electricity to Cambodia. Samdech criticized some schemes for just caring about co-financing arrangements back and forth, while bidding has not yet been done because a consultant has not yet been found, or the consultant has not yet declared how to divide the co-financing, so we cannot act yet.

“Regarding the negotiations to buy electricity from Vietnam, Samdech Prime Minister asked Vietnam to sell 200 megawatts, and Cambodia will pay it when Cambodia will have completed the Sesant I and Sesant II hydroelectric plants – i.e. Cambodia will return electricity to Vietnam. The same with Thailand, when we will have completed the Stung Me River hydroelectric plant, we will sell electricity back to Thailand. This is part of what is called the ‘integrated framework.’

“UNDP and the Ministry of Commerce had also jointly made announcements about related issue.” [The original text contained several difficult to interpret passages.] Koh Santepheap, Vol.40, #6211, 6.12.2007

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 6 December 2007

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1511, 6.12.2007

  • US Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues [Clint Williamson] to Visit Cambodia
  • 450 Workers of Jin Chov [garment] Factory Say the Factory Is Notorious for Violating Workers’ Rights [Russey Keo, Phnom Penh]
  • Phsar Kandal Market Gold Seller Wounded with Bullets and Robbed of More Than $100,000 [Daun Penh, Phnom Penh]
  • Mr. Bush Will Visit Middle East in January

Khmer Amatak, Vol.8, #532, 5.12.2007

  • Soldiers in Cambodia at Present Become Guards to Protect Land for Businesspeople and Their Chiefs

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.1, #66, 6.12.2007

  • US Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues Comes to Cambodia to Monitor Irregularities in Khmer Rouge Tribunal Administration
  • Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association Threatens to Hold Large Demonstration against Increase of Gasoline Prices
  • Press Freedom in Cambodia Is in a Narrow Box

Koh Santepheap, Vol.40, #6211, 6.12.2007

  • Samdech Prime Minister Shows Position on Land Issues, Oil, Minerals, and Hydroelectric Energy
  • Airline Law Adopted: Hijacking Is to Get Life Imprisonment; Flight Attendants Must Speak Khmer Also
  • World Food Program Provides Cambodia More Than $56 Million [aid] for 2008-2010

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.14, #3330, 6.12.2007

  • Allowing Private Companies to Owe Money for Long Time Is a Trick of Ministry of Finance Leaders to Get Benefits
  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Visits Supporters in Districts in Kratie

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.15, #4455, 6.12.2007

  • It Is Suspected that Corruption Exists in Road Construction Projects in Six Provinces [Kompong Speu, Kompong Chhnang, Kompong Thom, Kratie, and Prey Veng]Valued More Than $10 Million

Go to last week’s editorial

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