… It is my pleasure to be able to join in the groundbreaking ceremony to build the Cho Ray – Phnom Penh Hospital on the five hectare size land. I must say the hospital could perhaps be one of the largest hospitals in terms of land size and capability for medical checkup and treatment. I also should recall that this has been my call for about ten years ago. According to HE Truong Vinh Trong it has been truly a short time to get the project started after the conference on investment last December 2009. It has taken only six months for the project to get off.
However I may need to recall a little background in relation to the hospital construction and investment project. There could be two ways of thoughts in relation to this. First, from December 2009 up to the present, it has indeed taken just a short time. But if we go back further to when the dialogue started, it has indeed taken us quite a long time. In fact the discussion started when HE Le Kha Phieu was in his position as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, the most powerful person, in 2000. As of the moment of speaking, we are in 2010, which means it has taken us some ten years. I could recall that Oknha Sok Kong has come to me with many versions and more than one time to get my approval for the hospital architecture blueprint.
Today I am witnessing the reality of the project commencement and I am sure the project will be healthy. HE Mam Bun Heng, the Cambodian Minister of Health, and his counterpart from Vietnam, have mentioned already about cooperation between the hospital of Cho Ray and the company of SOKIMEX – two leading companies with big shares in the two countries. The investment also enjoys financial investment from Investment and Development Bank of Vietnam and Investment and Development Bank of Cambodia, and because of the two Banks’ commitments I am sure the two phase project for the hospital construction and operation will be achieved as planned.
I would like to take this opportune moment to thank HE Le Kha Phieu, former Secretary General of the Communist Party of Vietnam and HE Truong Vinh Trong, Deputy Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and other Vietnamese leaders for taking their precious time to take part in the groundbreaking ceremony to build this huge Cho Ray – Phnom Penh hospital …
It is known to many that the Cho Ray hospital is one of the famous hospitals in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh city with a reputation known not only at national but also at regional level. There have been a record that about 250 Cambodian patients who have traveled to Vietnam per day for medical reason and treatment, and about two thirds of them go to Cho Ray hospital.
I also used to go for medical checkup at Cho Ray hospital and I have found out that the efficiency I got from there is no less than those I am getting from medical service in France, Japan, Singapore, China and Malaysia. Not only people in general but many Cambodian leaders have also visited the Cho Ray hospital in Vietnam as well. Seeing that the hospital service has a great significance for our people, I have proposed my initiative to get the hospital built and operated in Phnom Penh to the Vietnamese leaders.
The idea has been proposed to various Vietnamese delegations from Vietnam, especially those coming from the city of Ho Chi Minh and the Minister of Health of Vietnam has been a key person to help speed up the process. Before we came to this Cho Ray – Phnom Penh project, we have in fact established what we call the Cho Ray – Phnom Penh liaison office. However, the office could no longer respond to a growing demand and requirement for facilitation. In fact HE Sok Kong thought of building the hospital near the Royal Palace, but because the area is small, he then has to move out here to this side of the city that SOKIMEX has had to pump sand and level up the land. This has taken time from the Cambodian side as well.
Then came a question, if we were to build the hospital on this side of the river, how do we go about sorting out traffic as at the time of thought we had only one Monivong bridge? Thanks to the development plan of the Phnom Penh city, we have a new bridge that traveling to and from the hospital to the main city area would not be in question anymore. And because we will have a new bridge too at Neak Loeng (further down the Mekong River on National Road 1 toward Vietnam) this part of the city is no longer a suburban area …
Once the hospital construction is done we would be seeing a new material and technical facility that is available locally and use of these facilities would help in cutting down time wasting and other expenses.
I would like to thank the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam for creating and providing favorable conditions for the Cambodian citizens to cross the border for treatment on the Vietnamese side. Our two countries have had many easy land access points and transfer of patients to and from has not been that hard. I also notice that some hospitals in Vietnam also implement favorable policies for the Cambodian patients, such as the same rate of service charges as those of the locals. This has in fact been a favorable policy that encourages Cambodian patients to go over for treatment and checkup in Vietnam when the local healthcare system lacks facility and could not provide alternative option for their conditions.
It is in this regard that I hope that once the hospital starts its operation, Vietnam would continue with these policies so that Cambodia could go on sending their patients who are in need of more advanced cares for checkup and treatment as before. Also once the hospital operates, those who benefit from the service would not be only the people of Cambodia but foreign citizens who are in Cambodia for business and investment or tourism would also enjoy the service too. This will in effect increase confidence and trust in the local facilities too. Tourists, though some are quite old, would not hesitate to come for a visit to Cambodia as we have trustworthy healthcare and service in various locations.
For those of our students who have graduated from the school of medical nursery and midwife and who have yet to find a hospital to practice their careers, you may agree with us that building healthcare infrastructure ranging from hospital and training medical persons to other concerned services need to be set as priority. Having them in place those who have graduated from this profession would have a better chance to find a job. I am so happy to have met here just now with those who have graduated from midwife branch. It should be noticed that when I presided over the inauguration of the School of Medical Nursery, midwifes was not on its curriculum. Having seen that I have pushed for consideration on providing training of midwifes that will in effect be helping us to bring down death rate of delivery among child and/or mother.
I have a story to share with you. It is indeed my own story but it is also a story for all. I wanted to have a wife who has medical training background. In fact my wife is a midwife. I have an advice for you that all of you who would want to get married to a medical person must be prepared. In Pol Pot time, my wife was pregnant, and she had to attend to a delivery. This is a case in point not only for men but also for women. Anyone married to a medical person must be prepared to share their time and must consider sharing time and help is an obligation.
In my capacity as the Prime Minister and on behalf of the leaders of the Cambodian People’s Party I sent a letter of invitation to former leaders of Vietnam – former Secretary General of the Communist Party of Vietnam, HE Le Kha Phieu and former President of the State of Vietnam HE Tran Duc Loeng for a visit to the Kingdom of Cambodia. As of now HE Le Kha Phieu is my guest and his visit has been organized in line with the groundbreaking ceremony here today. He was one of many former generals from Vietnam who helped in liberating Cambodia and its people on January 7 from the genocide of Pol Pot.
I have a wish to invite the Vietnamese leaders whose contribution in the past have brought about the present Cambodia to see Phnom Penh, a city they use to see no residents, to witness current achievements and progresses that are totally different to what they found under the Pol Pot’s genocide. From April 30, 1975, it has been over 35 years now that South Vietnam was liberated and the whole of Vietnam has been united. During the ASEAN summit in Hanoi, on behalf of Cambodia, I wish Vietnam the 35th anniversary of the liberation of Vietnam and the unification of the country – 30 April 1975 through to 2010.
In 1977 I fled from Cambodia and went into Vietnam in search for a path to salvage the nation from the genocide of Pol Pot and later to enjoy the support from Vietnam to form national liberation armed forces, who present here today are some generals from the Cambodian and Vietnamese armies. Though our countries – Cambodia and Vietnam – were liberated at the same time, still the actual state of Vietnam has been different from that of Cambodia. From our bare hands Cambodia has now problem of traffic congestion.
HE Le Kha Phieu was a former soldier and general of the Vietnamese voluntary army that shouldered with our army to topple genocidal regime of Pol Pot and prevent it from returning to power. As of now the genocidal leaders have been brought to confront with justice after 30 years of their fallout. We were blamed for fighting Pol Pot and punishment was brought upon us. However, after 30 years, trial of the former head of the Pol Pot’s Tuol Sleng concentration and torturing camp was brought for trial. Sometimes it requires not one or two but up to thirty years to find justice.
It has not been peculiar that Vietnam and Cambodia cooperated in the fight against the genocide and prevent its return as they used to do that in the fight against former colonialists. As is said in the speech by HE Truong Vinh Trong, the situation of Cambodia today is different from that time. As for Vietnam it would be appropriate to say it has proven to be one of the less affected economies from the financial and economic crisis in the world. It has been known widely that Vietnam and China are the two economies that are resilient to the impacts. At the time that investment flow from other countries to Cambodia fell down, it seems that investment flow from Vietnam into Cambodia has leveled out the losing part.
As of last year investment project from Vietnam to Cambodia has been officially stated by Vietnam to be some one billion US dollars whereas forthcoming projects would absorb some 4 to 7 billion US dollars for the coming years … For just the passed five months we have inaugurated a factory that produces agricultural fertilizer that is located not far from here. There have been many projects that are for the benefits to agricultural sector and infrastructural developments. The Cambodian national civil aviation and banks are some of the developments so far noted.
The trade flow between our two countries has been noted to be some two billion US dollars and I am sure there have been some unrecorded ones too. A part of electric demand for Phnom Penh has been and is to be supplied by Vietnam. We have first drafted a need for some 80 megawatts from Vietnam for consumption in the city. As of now the amount of electricity to be requested from Vietnam would reach 200 megawatts and the current supply has reached 100 megawatts already. Some 20 megawatts more will be coming sometime in June and this will make some provinces along the Cambodian-Vietnamese border benefit from low price electricity.
I am sure the volume of trade between our two countries will increase and Vietnam will become a new dragon in Asia in the near future because of strong and broad based economic development in the last years, which has in fact empower Vietnamese purchasing might whereby its supply to partners would be increased and cooperation in the field of trade and economics would better position other sectors as well, and politics is to be included.
A pride I am taking is that effort and success in laying out a foundation for good neighborly development in which former battlefields have been transformed into development zones, and that has in fact been fulfilled along the Cambodian-Vietnamese border. My ambition is to achieve the same situation with Laos and Thailand whereby a borderline of friendship, peace and cooperation will be built. Areas transformed from former 1970-75 battles into economic zones have been that of Chantrea, Anlong Kreh and Tralok Bek of Svay Rieng, where insecurity is no more the term but special economic zone between Vietnam and Cambodia …
As weather turns out to be nasty, advance rains came with deadly lightning, and diarrhea breakout reported, I appeal to our people to exercise hygiene to protect families and communities from diseases and be alert for lightning and dengue as rainy season arrives. Local authorities and the Ministry of Health must raise vigilance and be prepared to help people deal with the situations …◉