Prime Minister Hun Manet has announced that the groundbreaking for the construction of the Funan Techo Canal will begin in August this year, in order to connect the Kingdom’s waterway transport network to the world and serve Cambodia’s common interests and its people.

“We will not wait long to open the construction site, as this could lead to a lot of speculation,” he said.

“To stop this speculation, we will do it! We will begin construction in August. We will not let the naysayers tell us this is not possible,” he added.

The prime minister made the announcement during the inauguration ceremony of the Buddhist Cultural Centre of Cambodia in Kampong Speu province on May 30. 

“If the Cambodian people put their hearts into it, then that is all we need. Some people have asked what we will do if foreign investors do not invest. Regardless, Cambodians will do it, and do it on our own territory,” said Manet.

He noted that the canal project is unique among the Kingdom’s other infrastructure developments, as it has the spirit of support from Cambodian people from around the world.

“Of course, there are those who will have objections. Some people have posted opposing comments on social media every day, in an attempt to persuade people to no longer trust and support this Cambodian project,” he said.

Manet referred to the canal as a “nationalist project” because all Cambodians, no matter what the trend, understand that it will belong to the Cambodian people and benefit everyone.

He added that in the near future, many Khmer will participate in the construction of the project, as they are motivated by an understanding of its importance.

“Once it begins, the majority of people working on it will be Cambodian. Of course, we have negotiated with a Chinese investment company, as they have the technology we need and some investment,” he added.

Manet noted that in 100 years, this canal will become a strong historical symbol of the achievements of the 21st generation of Cambodians, and one that will leave a legacy for the generations that follow. 

“Our ancestors built the Angkor Temple and other great monuments, but unfortunately we used to be divided. Now, we are once again united and we are building new achievements,” he said.

In recent weeks, Senate president Hun Sen suggested that the government begin construction of the canal as soon as possible.

Earlier, in April, Hun Sen addressed allegations that the canal could serve a Chinese military function. He explained that Cambodia would not allow the deployment of Chinese troops on its territory, as this would be contrary to its constitution, as well as the Kingdom’s principles of independence and sovereignty.

The 180-kilometre canal project will cost $ 1.7 billion and construction is expected to take four years.

Yang Poeu, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, applauded the government for setting an August date for the beginning of construction. He believed that this sends a clear message that there will be no hesitancy or doubts about the project.

 “Overall, I applaud the decision. I have a positive feeling about the development of the Funan Techo Canal,” he told The Post on May 30.