Samdech Hun Sen presides over the groundbreaking of the construction of a three-storey building in the National Pediatric hospital at the financial assistance from the Republic of Korea. While arguing on how he keeps the land for the people’s benefit, he addresses issue of ethics for medical staff.
… Today we all are happy to participate in the groundbreaking for the construction of a 2.4 million US dollars building at the financial assistance from the Government of the Republic of Korea together with the counterpart fund from the Royal Government of Cambodia of 394 million Riels. I wish to take this opportunity to express through HE the Korean Ambassador the gratitude of the people and Royal Government of Cambodia to the people and Government of the Republic of Korea for their kind assistance aimed at improving the mother and child well being at the national pediatric hospital. Please allow me to make a few comments in regard to the hospital, which has made its efforts to survive and develop.
… In 1979 the hospital was given back to Cambodia by the then director of World Vision. It was built in 1974 by World Vision. I met him very often and once in Kompong Cham, he cut himself with a nail clipper and said to me “no matter what color our complexion would be, we all have red blood.” Upon return from Kompong Cham, he brought me to his operation room, where he then gave me his clipper. He proposed to rebuild the hospital and in my capacity as a Foreign Minister, I accepted the request. It was too bad that there was a conflicting opinion between me, as a Foreign Minister, and the Minister of Defense, who was also the head of the Party.
… He was removed from duty and position in 1981. The Foreign Minister was gathering assistance at the time that Cambodia was under embargo, but was blamed because I have accepted to have a cross displayed in front of the hospital. When the Red Cross plane arrived with medicines, they ordered them caught. I was then in Kompong Cham. I returned to Phnom Penh and set the plane free. It was a big gap in leadership opinion between the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Defense, while Samdech Heng Samrin was then Chairman of the Cambodian People’s Revolutionary Council – holding positions both as President and the Prime Minister, and HE Chea Sim was the Minister for Interior. The former Minister for Defense lied all out in his biography but one point – Hun Sen came to his house to get him arrested. He was then sent to Vietnam because he used to live in Vietnam since 1954, and more than that he also is married with a Vietnamese wife.
… As far as this plot of land is concerned, many want it. When UNTAC (United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia) was here, they also want the land for their headquarters. As a member of the Security Council, in its chairman’s turn, the British Ambassador said to me he would offer half a million a month in exchange for the use of the land. I told him if he wanted the land (which is the national pediatric hospital) I would not reject but resign as the Prime Minister and member of the Supreme National Council (SNC). He replied “no, your presence is more important than the UNTAC’s headquarters.” I was right because we now use this land for constructing another building for the hospital’s need. Former Mayor of Phnom Penh, HE Chea Sophara moved the 46 families to a better housing condition and we have taken this as a workplace.
… At the start, we will have a three-storey building on a foundation that is built strong enough to go five or even six floors. So we have to try and expand, not just survive. Later when we have more charitable people – from France, Italy, or anywhere, we will go up. According to the report, there have been between 70,000 and 100,000 children coming for treatments in the hospital. Mortality rate in children treated in the hospital was 8% in the 1980s, 4% in the 1990s and only 1% as of the present day.
… There is also a story about why the negotiation has been conducted seriously between HE Deputy Prime Minister Hor Nam Hong with his South Korean counterpart. It all began by a few people in the hospital of Kuntha Bopha. After the elections in 2003, people in the district of Batheay in the province of Kompong Cham, brought their sick children to the hospital Kuntha Bopha where they were asked for whom they voted? The child was denied for treatment because they voted for the Cambodian People’s Party. The story went on newspapers as well. HE Hor Nam Hong, who is also the head of the CPP work team, went to the district of Batheay at my request and brought the child back to the National Pediatric Hospital. Noticing that the hospital is small, he seeks the possibility to enlarge it.
… A week after that there was another case where a child from Samraong Torng district of Kompong Speu province was brought to the National Pediatric Hospital once again after the parents were recommended to “have their child operated in the water canal.” The story behind is because the people in the area voted 79% for CPP, and because there are two water canals built in the district. This is a lack of ethical conduct as a physician or medical person. They should not discriminate against patients. The same should be said for those in terms of education as everyone has equal right to access public services.
… Having said so, I did not mean to dishonor Kuntha Bopha Hospital. I even offered to seek land for them to build a new hospital. When I go to inaugurate the hospital on December 29, I probably bring this matter up as it is a matter of medical ethics. During the flood in 1991, soldiers of the Khmer Rouge, in time of fighting, were drowned. They then were rescued and treated before releasing. I wish that you who study medicines should strictly follow the ethical codes in this area.
… I wish to take this moment to inform you that the office of the Chief of General Staff will be relocated to outside the city so that the old place in the city will be used as a hospital. But because the Royal Government offers the new building of the chief of General Staff to the United Nations as its office for the trial of the Khmer Rouge, the chief of General Staff’s office has to stay where they are for the moment./.