Banteay Meanchey province’s former governor got a surprise Monday when he attended a ceremony in Phnom Penh expecting to receive a donation of 200 power tillers from Chinese officials, but received eight small water pumps instead.
Former Banteay Meanchey governor Oung Oeun and the governor of China’s Yunnan province, Li Jiheng, met earlier this year, and the province has since received $1 million from China for the establishment of an agricultural college.
Then in August, when Mr. Oeun visited Yunnan’s capital, Kunming, and told of the annual devastation in Banteay Meanchey due to flooding, Mr. Li promised to donate 200 power tillers, petrol-powered engines used to propel a variety of agricultural equipment, to poor farmers in the province.
But, at Monday’s handing-over ceremony at the Phnom Penh Hotel, in front of a giant placard which titled the event “Handing Over Ceremony of 200 Power Tillers from Yunnan Province, Republic of China, to Banteay Meanchey Province, Kingdom of Cambodia,” Mr. Oeun received eight water pumps instead.
“After His Excellency Li Jiheng, governor of Yunnan province, [in August] delivered a speech [announcing the intended donation], I was promising water pumps and power tillers to the people of Banteay Meanchey province,” Mr. Oeun said. “At the time, he promised to donate 200 power tillers,” he said.
Yu Ding Heng, head of the delegation of the Yunnan Provincial Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, handed over the eight water pumps, but offered no timeframe for the 200 promised tillers.
“Today, we meet again, but not as guests, as friends and family,” Mr. Yu Ding said. “And, despite promising 200 tillers, we hope this little gift will benefit and help the farmers of Banteay Meanchey province increase cultivation.”
Despite his obvious disappointment, Huot Sothy, deputy director of the department of agriculture in Banteay Meanchey, said he expected the Chinese to eventually hold true to their promise.
“So far we have received eight small water pumps,” he said. “The power tillers will arrive later on.