His Excellency, Lok Chumteav,
And also, my gratitude toward the provinces/capitals, as well as units of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and all networks that attended today’s meeting through videoconference and physical meeting of our Council of Ministers!
Due to COVID-19, we postponed the cabinet meeting for a while. Nevertheless, after the vaccination reached both in the city and in the countryside, our situation improved and we hope to arrange meetings in our new way. As always, our cabinet meeting only sits at this one table, but now we maintain social distancing and wear masks. That’s something we can do.
Today, our Council of Ministers convened a plenary session focusing on (1) the Draft Constitutional Law on the Amendment of Article 19, Article 82, New Article 19, New Article 82, New Article 106, New Article 119 and New Article 137 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia and Article 3 of the supplementary constitutional law aimed at ensuring the normal functioning of national institutions, (2) The draft law on public-private partnerships. As for the three-year rolling public investment program draft, I would like to postpone it to later date. Because we do not have enough time to meet today, the draft law related to the amendment of the constitution must be thoroughly examined with the law on public-private partnerships. On the other hand, other issues also require me to comment today. So, let’s move the public investment program to next week with other agendas. And in the fourth week of this month, the Financial Management Law for 2022 will be passed, so we will have the meeting another time.
There is also other issues including the request for the approval of the Council of Ministers to seek the approval of the legislature on the draft law on the approval of the agreement in addition to the agreement between the Royal Government of Cambodia and the United Nations regarding the adjudication under Cambodian law of crimes committed during the period of Democratic Kampuchea on the arrangements during the transition and termination of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.
Before entering the agenda, let me take this opportunity to send my thoughts and appreciation to the provincial and the capital (authorities) and all kinds of armed forces who have worked hard during Pchum Ben to protect the people. Given the number of COVID-19 infections and COVID-19 deaths as of yesterday, the number of deaths (from COVID-19) was lower than the number of deaths from traffic accidents, which is unfortunate. On the other hand, our people were also visiting various place, which I have posted (a voice message) to remind that this is our big test in order to reopen all areas of the country. Supposedly in 10 to 15 days, our situation remains the same; in that case, if the infection rate is the same every day, and the mortality rate is similar to now, I think it is time for us to reopen the economy and society in all areas. However, we need to follow a new path (of life) with our Three Dos and Three Don’ts approaches that will lead to the recovery of our economy.
The IMF, the World Bank, and other financial institutions have projected our growth rate from 1.8% to 2.2%. Nevertheless, last year we had a meeting here to forecast 4.1% economic growth, but due to the pandemic, there was a renewed forecast which we will fall to 1.8%, and now it is predicted to be increased to 2.2%. However, if we can open (our economy) in the last two months of this year, especially domestic tourism and other services, our economic growth may be slightly higher. National budget revenue will be able to return to a better condition.
Well, I thank all the actors involved, especially those who have worked hard to protect themselves and their families, because the COVID-19 problem starts individually from them. I also realized that two-thirds of the previous deaths were not vaccinated because the vaccination hasn’t reached their areas. Nevertheless, yesterday, out of 10 deaths, five of whom were vaccinated and five of whom were not vaccinated. Last night I asked for what reason they did not get vaccinated? In Phnom Penh, two cases have been found: the stubborn group, to be honest. As a result, one person died last time because the team refused to be vaccinated. Last night it was reported that this person was not vaccinated as a woman and was probably in the group that refused to be vaccinated. So, I immediately got information that both her husband and father also did not get jabbed. So, this is where we can educate them to accept the vaccine because anything will required vaccination in the future, not only in Cambodia.
Furthermore, let me tell you – “Vaccine Obligation” was originated from me, I hold the intellectual property rights to it, but now it is being used around the world. Let’s be true, and it does not mean I am proud of myself. Initially, NGOs in Cambodia asked me to withdraw the sub-decree, saying that I violated their rights. However, now the French president has taken legal action to cut the salaries of more than 3,000 medical staff who refuse to be vaccinated. US President Joe Biden has ordered the vaccination of federal officials, and Los Angeles is now ordered its students to be vaccinated … it is true that Hun Sen said it first, but all countries will play this obligatory vaccination game, and (those who did not get jabbed) are not going to be allowed to enter those countries.
This is why I think we have to work together to find out about a group of people who have refused to be vaccinated and propagandized others not to get vaccinated. Although we have already vaccinated 13.5 million people with a coverage rate of over 84%, we do not want to let those who believe in this propaganda later unfortunately die. We want them to live. So, I would like to send a message through the televised broadcast asking the opposition to see the example. In Phnom Penh, there are two cases. The previous case was a 42-year-old former worker from Phnom Prasidh, who was hospitalized in Phnom Penh and died. Yesterday, there was another death in Phnom Penh, so I asked why they had not been vaccinated. They seem to be biased towards the team refusing to be vaccinated. And I asked the research team to find out whether the father and husband (of the decease) were vaccinated or not? All of them were not. So, we do not want the father and husband to die because the vaccine has helped reduce the severity of the disease. However others, including grandparents who are from 70 to 90 years old, and have a chronic illness, refused the vaccination, that’s one thing. Still we have to find out why those people refused to be vaccinated while our vaccine was in stock, with 11 million doses left for the third dose. Other people have already started to inject the third dose while you are not. So, who are you going to live with in the future? Maybe your house will be closed in the future since it was infected. This is an issue that I would like to appeal to all those who believe in the incitement of the illiterates.
What we are most proud of is the children from 6–12 years old that I was mostly worried that they would be scared of needles, but in the end, we check the numbers that I received every night; this number is more than the number of older children … We look at the coverage rate of vaccines. I would like to confirm that … the vaccination for people from 18 year old has reached 99.14%, for children and adolescents aged 12-18 have reached 89,68%, and children aged 6-12 years has reached 93.78% … So, it is not a small number that we have injected up to 13.4 million out of 16 million people, and the coverage rate is 84.81%. The rest could be those children from one to 6 years old, and some who refused to inject. They will become the ones who will isolate themselves; in the future when they have to go to school or work, they will not be accepted. They will not be allowed to walk in.
So, I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to those who were fooled. We open the vaccination site everywhere, do not be ashamed; you cannot return from death, and not taking the vaccine will make your family members become victims later. This is just an appeal. No one will die for you, let’s be clear with each other. We have tried to find vaccines with little financial resources, we dared spending money for them, and we also asked (other countries) for vaccine grants. But what I admire is that our armed forces and officials have worked so hard during this period of COVID-19; they have given their all, especially our medical teams, who have worked so hard.
And today, we pass the draft constitution on amendments. Some questions may raise, why do it so fast? Please note that the reason for that is (1) we work, do not sleep, simply put. You work one month, I work only three days, because a few articles to be included in the Constitution are studied, so it is not complicated to work without sleep. (2) reason to end Hun Sen’s position as easily as possible. When the articles came into force, Hun Sen’s position would be terminated because of allegations that Hun Sen had dual citizenship. But if Hun Sen does not have dual citizenship, Hun Sen will continue. I posted on Facebook, If you want to play, do not get angry, if you are angry, do not play. The door is closed forever, and for those who have dual citizenship and try to take the position, or so-called search for the top three positions, especially the position of Prime Minister is permanently closed because it is included in the Constitution, you can wait until your next life to find the two-thirds vote. So, we need to make it clear and fast, who is the one with one nationality and who has dual nationality?
The problem lies ahead, but it is beneficial for Cambodia to avoid foreign interference and loyalty to the motherland. Why not dare to take just one nationality? … And this is a conflict of interest. Foreign interference in this important position could happen because dual nationals have to pay taxes abroad, and they may threaten that if you do not follow them, your property abroad may be confiscated or others. Hence, you are likely to be under their influence. But by doing this we intended to affect only four people … Dr. Seng Sary, who was interviewed, said he wanted (this new law) to cover from the Under-Secretary of State, which means that all political officials are covered and excluded only public officials. But if we do that, it will affect other people who were forced to flee abroad (in the past) and came back to contribute to building the country as the current officials. If we close the gate like this, it will be too conservative, while our country is different from other countries. (For instance) if you want to become a Singaporean citizen, you have to say goodbye to your Cambodian citizenship; I have signed those proposed document …
But we leave the opportunity for those with dual nationality to become senior ministers, ministers, vice presidents of the national assembly, vice presidents of the Senate, but only limited to our four people. Wait and see! I’m waiting to see who opposes this, are those who wants to be the Prime Minister or support the person (with dual nationality) preparing to be the Prime Minister in order to get a position as his/her minister or secretary of state. We will wait and see because it affects four people only: the President of the Senate, the President of the National Assembly, the Prime Minister, and the President of the Constitutional Council. Thus, for the long-term interests of Cambodia in the future, we need to be Khmerized on more issues later. Until then, we will think more, but now it is not time.
… HE Prak Sokhon must do an excellent job with the state of Cyprus, since this is a state-to-state relationship. Both states suffer the same. For the Royal Government of Cambodia, it affects the Cambodian leader, most importantly the Prime Minister of Cambodia. Cyprus itself was tarnished by using the Cypriot name to denigrate Hun Sen’s purchase of citizenship and passport. Well, both states are equally affected by The Guardian. That press has indeed changed, but we have to confirm between state and state together. If necessary, HE Prak Sokhon or HE Keut Rith need to meet with the Minister of Foreign Affairs or the Minister of Justice (of Cyprus) through a video chat to clarify the matter. This is not the end because we have requested cooperation on behalf of the state and the state. We cannot be silly or treat it as unimportant since it is a matter of a slandered national leader. In Cyprus, it tarnishes the image of the Cypriot Government, so we have to do it. … Let our ambassador in Beijing meet with the Cyprus ambassador. If he does not answer, we will send a note verbale to the ambassador. We must seek cooperation. Now we have sent a note verbale to the EU Ambassador in Phnom Penh, sent note verbale by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Justice to the Ambassadors of the European Union, including the United Kingdom because the newspaper is British-owned.
So, it needs to be done quickly because the support is so significant. The other day I asked you to study whether to draft or propose a law? But now, we take the draft law approach. The Prime Minister has the initiative to draft a law. The Constitution permitted that, and the Prime Minister has written a letter to the King requesting that the Constitution be amended. The King asked the Constitutional Council. The Constitutional Council gives its opinion to the King. The Constitutional Council will examine whether it affects what the Constitution prohibits or not; in particular, constitutional monarchy and multi-party liberal democracy. If not, we can do it. The King receives the opinion of the Constitutional Council, the King will confirm to the Royal Government, and the Government will send it to the Parliament. Then a constitution can be issued. This is why today, we need to remove the agenda related to the Public Investment Draft Program and set it aside.
Now, journalists, please leave here and broadcast this audio./.