Thursday, May 16, 2024

Selected Comments Samdech Techo Hun Sen, President of the Senate, regarding the Funan-Techo Canal construction project [Unofficial and translations]


(1) National movement supports a socio-economic and political independence Funan-Techo Canal project

Today, I have some issues to address and inform my compatriots regarding the “Funan-Techo Canal”. First of all, let me express my gratitude to all the monks, nuns, compatriots who support the Royal Government’s activities relating to the construction project of the Funan-Techo canal. I consider this a strong national movement to support the project that is both socio-economic and politically independent in nature […] after I addressed the Oknha’s Association forum, Deputy Prime Minister Neth Savoeun attended the 70th anniversary of the Vietnam’s victory in Dien Bien Phu, […] The Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh reiterates in the message to the Cambodian leaders regarding the respect for Cambodian sovereignty and also complained on the fact that analysts as well as some of the media (have) published (unconstructive opinions) […]

(2) Cambodia has not violated its own environment or those of the neighboring countries, either upstream or downstream of the Mekong

Recently, we saw the analysis of Vietnamese scientists with similar views of Cambodia’s regarding the non-alteration of the downstream water flow system. However, we have also observed that some media outlets, including some Vietnamese, have written and sent for publication articles related to those concerns in other foreign newspapers […] we have not taken this project in violation of own environment or causing damages to neighboring countries, both in the upper part and in the lower part of the Mekong. As for China, she does not know about this project. We just discussed and got her involved in the study. We are looking for Chinese companies to co-invest with Cambodia to set up this canal. That being said, I urge those who have always accused Cambodia of being in this geopolitical quagmire, and who are inclined towards anti-China, to stop this (accusation) […]

(3) They should stop taking Cambodia as hostage aimed at opposing China linking this canal with Vietnam’s security concerns

(Just) to oppose Cambodia within the geopolitical setting and to aim against China, they dare to act as a fool to mention the deploy of destroyers in this small canal. Would it be rational to deploy warships in such a small canal that even a small ship could not make a turn (and do not talk about warships) […] they all have to stop this policy of taking Cambodia a geopolitical hostage aimed at opposing China by linking this canal with Vietnam’s security concerns, while Vietnam and Cambodia are have good relations, and while Vietnam and China are having good relations […] let me reaffirm that the Funan-Techo canal project has not been relating to whatever level of the China’s Belt and Road, but is a purely Cambodian initiative serving the need for socio-economic development and political independence for Cambodia’s inland waterway transport […]

(4) Launch the construction of Funan-Techo Canal as soon as possible

I would make it clear today that it is a message for future Cambodian children to seek political independence regarding inland waterway transportation as it goes beyond the framework of socio-economic development. Regarding the technical issues […] (as required in) the 1995 agreement on (use) of the tributary, we have already accomplished what needed to be done. According to the “Article 5 of the Mekong Agreement 1995,” Cambodia has an obligation to inform the Joint Commission […] I know that Cambodia has already completed that phase […] I would like to give my opinion to the new Prime Minister and to the Royal Government […] that it would be better to launch the construction as soon as possible. Let us not wait any longer […] we need to think of our economy and independence […]

(5) 80 km of Funan Techo canal is Canal No. 15 built by the Royal Government before being used as an irrigation system and as a transportation system

Of the 180 km of the canal, there are 80 km of which I led the construction already (in the previous governments). His Excellency Pol Saroeun, now an advisor to the Royal Government, and then was the Governor of Takeo, (was the one who implemented the project). I was the one who led the building of this 80-kilometers long canal or the canal #15, which is currently being used for irrigation as well as transportation […] in 1993, some had claimed that the canal #15 would become the border between Cambodia and Vietnam […] this was the (statement of) Cambodians in exile. I just wanted to ask them, if this canal had been built and becoming the border between Vietnam and Cambodia, why would Vietnam need to worry about it? Vietnam (should) in fact welcome the project […]

(6) Five benefits of the Funan-Techo Canal project

I once brought up at the end of last April about this benefit (that we would gain from the canal). Let me reaffirm it. Firstly, it will establish an internal integrated transport system. It’s one of the most lucrative things the country would reap about shipping. There are many comparative study tables of (the benefits) of transportation […] in terms of distance, we gain 169 km […]; secondly, it will put in place an irrigation system in the southwest of Cambodia […] I agree with some Vietnamese scientists whose works have concluded that the amount of water from the Mekong going to the sea – compared to that of the natural flow – will be little. However, more water could be taken out (of the river body) if there will be more use as in irrigation system, though it would still be small compared to the natural flow of the Mekong […]; thirdly, we will be able to manage floods in the southwest of Cambodia. When the floodwaters are high, we could release the water into the sea. It reduces the flooding that used to happen. Fourthly, our people can get fish from this canal […] raise fish, shrimp or other aquatic lives to meet the needs of the local markets […]; and, fifthly, tourism is also growing to contribute to the development of rising star southwest […] because, not only by the seashore, there may be tourist sites along the tributaries, where people can earn money through tourism […]

(7) Former or current government implements the same policy of the Cambodian People’s Party

If we have the canal ready, there will be new procedure, applications form for transit permit and all happen in the Cambodian territory […] because according to the internal procedures of Cambodia, there is no loading and unloading of goods many times and the ship can travel both day and night in our territory. Now, let those who oppose this project choose between when traveling, one has to apply for a permit and when traveling one do not have to have legal permit because it is in their own territory […] payment of transporting through the canal must be made because we have to find money to dig the canal. It is US$ 1.7 billion […] the economic benefit is one thing, however, let me remind our people to be interested in politics of being independent regarding transportation. We do not need to be an enemy of Vietnam, and Vietnam does not need to be an enemy of Cambodia. There are those who incited (everything) […] to be of geopolitics. As long as they wanted to oppose China, they would do everything against Cambodia. However, Cambodia does not choose one over the other, and it makes friends with everyone […] whether the former or the new governments, it implements the same policy of the Cambodian People’s Party […]

(8) The President of the ruling party has the right to speak/explain to the Khmer nation

The party does not act in making decision to do this or that on behalf of the Prime Minister. When I was the Prime Minister, I did not allow the party to interfere in my decisions, but I had to implement the party’s policies […] I have the right to speak on behalf of the entire Cambodian nation as president of the ruling party. Not to mention the President of the Senate or anything […] today, I speak to the people of Cambodia, as well as to the people of Vietnam and others who need to hear my explanation […] may the people of Cambodia remember clearly what Hun Sen had to say today – I wanted to point out that what is utterly important beyond economic and social benefits of the canal project is the politics of being independent on inland waterway transport […]

(9) Although there is agreement, lower-levels implementors taking measures to the extreme

Why did I say that? This raises a question back in the 1960s, when the South Vietnamese Thiệu-Ky was not in good term with the Cambodia’s then Head of State Norodom Sihanouk, Were we able to transport in the waterway (downstream the Mekong) or not? […] although the Vietnamese leaders and I have reached an agreement, implementors at the lower levels have been taking some measures to the extreme, and it caused difficulty for us […] some public opinions have concerned only for economic gain that Vietnam is afraid of losing. I should defend Vietnam a little bit here. Vietnam is an economically developed country. Vietnam will soon become a member of the so-called G20. Therefore, Vietnam does not depend on Cambodia’s transportation revenue. More so, Cambodia has already paid enough. The issue here is Cambodia needs to think about independence of transportation […]

(10) Cambodia’s Independence is no loss to Vietnam but a complementary economy to one another

In time of shallow water depths, our ships will have to wait for the tidal time to travel. There is then congestion and waste of time. That’s a natural obstacle […] and I pray that worse does not happen in the future. At some point, if there would have some issues in the relationship between the two countries, would we be able to still ship out through Vietnam? […] for today, it does not matter […] as a country, we must have peace, friendship, cooperation, and cannot make enemies for life. Any conflict is like a fight between tongue and teeth. Even the tongue and the teeth sometimes bite each other […] we need to make sure that the teeth do not bite the tongue […] we do not have to be enemies (against each other). We need to be friends […] I believe that the Vietnamese leaders also want Cambodia to be independent […] and there is no loss to Vietnam. Instead, it is a complementary economy to one another […]

(11) Funan Techo canal will reduce Vietnam’s influence on Cambodia

Of course, I still have 10 years twice or thrice, but I have to talk now to practically expedite the implementation of (the infrastructure project for) inland waterway transport. I am inviting the Cambodian people to look beyond the boundaries of economic and social benefits to the benefits of political independence on inland waterway transport issues. Some foreigners have started writing already on this concept and I think they are right to say that once Cambodia has this canal ready, Vietnam’s influence over Cambodia’s (waterway goods transportation) would be reduced. It’s true. When we rely on someone else for the breath, we are in debt to reconcile. They asked for a price, though it is not an irrational amount, we have to pay […] I wish that people take note that on May 16, 2024, Hun Sen spoke of the political independence of the inland waterway transport aimed at making no difficulty for our friends because of us or for us because of our friends […]

(12) More than two-thirds of the Cambodia and Vietnam relations managed by CPP

At present, leaders of the two countries are in good term. I was the one who received support from Vietnam to fight the Pol Pot regime and to prevent the Pol Pot genocidal regime from returning. I myself passed (the border) into Vietnam on June 20, 1977. We have secured more than 45 years success of CPP rule. More than two-thirds of the relations between Cambodia and Vietnam are managed by the CPP. The once hostile borders from the Thieu-Ky and Khmer Rouge eras were transformed into borders of friendship, peace, cooperation and development. 84% of the border has already been demarcated. There remains 16% to resolve. I may emphasize if this (Funan-Techo) canal, once built, becomes the border between Cambodia and Vietnam, why it is necessary to negotiate the remaining 16%? Why not give it to them right away. This is an absurd accusation of some Cambodians who betrayed their own nation […]

(13) Vietnamese leaders thank Cambodia for helping Vietnam achieve unification

At the same time, Vietnamese leaders of all generations have always thanked Cambodia for the fact that Cambodia helped Vietnam liberate the southern part and reach the country’s unification. That is why we have written on the monuments of Cambodia and Vietnam friendship memories from both sides – what did Vietnam help Cambodia with and what did Cambodia help Vietnam with. These are the words of the President or Prime Minister of Vietnam of all generations […] they were mutual assistances to liberate the countries from the French colonialism and from the imperialist invasion […] some foreigners continue to say (that the Funan-Techo Canal Project) comes from China’s belt and road initiative, while China did not know anything about it. It is a 100% Cambodian initiative.

(14) Striving for independence politically and economically as it is difficult to achieve when we are a poor country

Let me remind us all again, we must strive for independence, both politically and economically, and that will be difficult to achieve when we are a poor country. (Now that we have some means,) we should do what we could for the independence of the country. Having said so, does that mean we are not independent now? Yes, we have independence but we still depend on some others. Being independent but dependent on others is difficult […] finally, please remember my words that we must look beyond the economic benefits to achieve the political independence of transportation so that the country will be free from force majeure or political factors. I need independence for the Cambodian people to have the freedom to transport, do business in the country and have good international relations through the Funan-Techo Canal […]./.


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