Namhong shares on long march to freedom, progress

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong delivers a speech at the 29th General Assembly of the Association Internationale des Maires Francophones (AIMF) in Phnom Penh on Wednesday. Heng Chivoan

Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong used his address at the 29th General Assembly of the Association Internationale des Maires Francophones (AIMF) in Phnom Penh to inform delegates of the Kingdom’s long march towards freedom and progress.

Namhong reminded the General Assembly that December 2 was an especially significant date for all Cambodians as the movement to topple the brutal Khmer Rouge regime was forged on that day in 1978.

“December 2, 1978, was the day that the Kampuchea United Front for National Salvation (FUNSK) was formed to topple the Khmer Rouge on December 2, 1987.

“Also on that day, the prime minister began negotiating with King Father Norodom Sihanouk in Fere en Tardenois which led to the signing of Paris Peace Accord in 1991,” Namhong said.

The Phnom Penh City Hall hosted the 39th AIMF 2019 for two days from Tuesday until Wednesday at a hotel under the theme of AIMF Phnom Penh 40 Years Later.

The General Assembly was held on Tuesday, just a day after Cambodian senior officials celebrated the 41st anniversary of FUNSK.

Namhong stressed to delegates that the events of the historic day led to the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime on January 7, 1979, the modernisation of Phnom Penh and the revival of the Kingdom.

“At that time, we had to provide food for millions of Cambodians who suffered from starvation. We had to build new infrastructure [in the capital] so that it would be worthy of the name ‘Phnom Penh’ and rebuild the ones that were destroyed by the Khmer Rouge,” he said.

The deputy prime minister noted that the Kingdom’s journey towards recovery had not been easy. He said that since 2000, a growing number of Cambodians were leaving rural communities to live in Phnom Penh – requiring officials to build massive amounts of temporary housing.

Meanwhile, in a bid to improve the economy, the capital was trying to expand its rate of industrialisation and create new jobs in the textile industry since 2004, he said.

“New road infrastructures have been built and subsequently expanded as there is traffic congestion on roads, the same as other cities in Southeast Asia.”

Namhong said in 2009, there were indications that Phnom Penh was poised to take the next big leap after officials reported that many small homes had been replaced with tall buildings, the city expanded from 300sq km to nearly 700sq km, 212 new gated communities had also been built, and the city’s population ballooned to some three million.

People’s Centre for Development and Peace president Yong Kim Eng echoed Namhong’s remark’s, telling The Post on Wednesday that Phnom Penh used the Paris Peace Agreement to herald a period of development and security.

Kim Eng noted that during the Sangkum Reastr Niyum era before the reign of the Khmer Rouge, Phnom Penh was once considered the most beautiful city in Southeast Asia.

“But the negative thing is that we filled in some lakes which lead to floods in the city. Nowadays, we depend on the Chaktomuk River, which is regrettable.

“Meanwhile, some new development projects have no clear master plan and some roads are very narrow. We are badly missing 10-year, 20-year or 50-year master plans to guide projects,” he said.