Chief of Mission Residence
Monday, April 29, 2019
(As prepared for delivery)
Good evening everyone! Welcome to the U.S. Ambassador’s residence, and thank you for coming tonight to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium.
My name is Michael Newbill and I am Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy. I may not get to live in this beautiful house, but at least I get to throw great parties in it! I hope everyone is enjoying the great food, drink and company.
Before I go any further, I would like to acknowledge the distinguished guests here tonight:
- H.E. Tith Chantha, Acting Minister of Tourism
- H.E. Pov Piseth, Vice Governor of Siem Reap
- Zeb Hogan (National Geographic, Wonders of the Mekong)
- Ambassador Tina Redshaw and Ambassador Angela Corcoran
As well as those friends and associates without whom this project would not have been possible, including:
- Meng Hieng
- Roger Reynolds, Director of Angkor Wildlife & Aquarium
The Angkor Wildlife & Aquarium has me excited for many reasons.
First, this project is one of the biggest American investments in Cambodia in many years, and that is something to both recognize and celebrate. In part, because of the U.S. support, this aquarium and wildlife park will be a world-class destination. And, we have the expertise of ICM, the world’s leading aquarium specialists, to also thank for that.
Second, I know that the Angkor Wildlife & Aquarium will be an excellent way for families to spend time together in Siem Reap. Though adults never seem to tire of the majesty of the Angkor temples, sometimes our kids do. This aquarium will add a family-oriented experience to the list of “must-see” destinations in Siem Reap, and its one that I am excited to bring my own two boys to see. Overall, it will encourage tourists to stay longer, boosting tourism revenue.
Finally, as an American diplomat, I am excited because when I talk about the investment being made by America, I don’t just mean money. Beyond the money, this project represents the U.S. investment in a healthy, prosperous, democratic, and secure Cambodia.
American businesses value quality and transparency. In this case, the transparency is literal. (Ha Ha). Transparency builds trust, and trust creates a platform for us to share our ideas and knowledge. This investment is also a prime example of when the rules are clear and the procurement process is open, Cambodia does not have to choose one partner or another, but in fact can benefit from its diversity of relationships to get the best possible result for Cambodia and the Cambodian people. In this case, Cambodia is getting value added to an already prime tourist destination.
We in the United States also value conservation, the environment, and education: things young Cambodians tell us are of utmost importance to them, too. This development aligns perfectly with those interests, and it will certainly be a draw to Cambodians who want to learn more about the rich ecosystems of their home country. In fact, I can’t think of a better way to promote economic growth, and conserve the rich biodiversity of the Mekong, than a top-notch wildlife park and aquarium.
I want to thank everyone again for coming tonight. I’m glad that U.S. Embassy could help showcase this wonderful project, and I look forward to its completion.