It is indeed my pleasure today that together with HE Ambassador of Japan, I have a chance to see you all here at the groundbreaking ceremony to build a referral hospital in the district of Mongkul Borei, which is to be built under grant aid from the Government and people of Japan. As is mentioned in the report of the Minister for Health Mr. Nut Sokhom and HE Ambassador of Japan Fumiaki Takahashi that the referral hospital started about four decades ago as it was fist built in 1964. It has survived various social changes and stood to be operational. Despite a few years after it was built there was the coup that ousted the Samgkum Reast Niyum from power in 1970 and the ensuing war between 1970 and 1975, the Khmer-Japan Health Center continued to open its door for people. The Khmer Rouge also used the hospital for medical purpose – only that they had their physicians in replacement of those from before.
After January 7, 1979, specifically in between 1979 and 1982 the referral hospital became a hospital of the Province of Battambang – as the provincial B hospital, whereas the A hospital located in the provincial town. On January 7, 1988, the hospital has been transformed into a referral hospital of Banteay Mean Chey as Mongkul Borei has been decided to become one of the latter’s new districts. In 1992, the American Refugee Service – in close cooperation with the International Red Cross –helped provide treatment and technical facilities not only for war victims but also common ward and birth delivery services. As of March 30, 1995, after finishing the International Red Cross and the American refugee’s Service Committee’s missions, there arrived this Norway Red Cross who continued to provide assistance and help until September 30, 1995.
In August 1996, then HM Samdech Ov and Samdech Me – Norodom Sihanouk and Monineath Sihanouk – provided their own fund for the construction of a children ward and a ward for the Buddhist monks. In 2001, the former Ambassador of Japan, HE Ogawa, visited the hospital. After a thorough study by the JICA, with the evaluation mission of the Japanese Ministry of Health, a decision has been made that the hospital could no longer be repaired but rather to be built anew with the financial grant from the Government and people of Japan. On August 29, 2005, I presided over the signing ceremony for such an assistance of about six million US dollars at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs between HE Senior Minister Hor Nam Hong and HE Fumiaki Takahashi.
What impressed me and all of our people here is that despite old hospital facilities were in bad shape, our medical staff and doctors have been making great efforts fulfilling their duties and responsibilities to look after and provide treatment to our patients. We hope that after the new facilities will be in place, our medical staff and doctors will be able to do more for providing effective treatment to our patients. I wish to take this opportune moment to express my deep respect on behalf of the people of Cambodia my greatest thanks to the people and Government of Japan for their valuable provision of such assistance as the referral hospital of Mongkul Borei, an important destination of health in providing support not only for people in the district but also to those districts throughout the province of Banteay Mean Chey on the one part, and from Batambang on another. More importantly, some patients from the city of Pailin could also use its facilities and service as well. I would say that the provision of assistance that costs 6 million dollars has been a priority-hit and Cambodian Government wished assistance.
The Japanese assistance, as we all know, in just three months have been a considerable amount ranging from the Kompong Thmor water reservoir in the district of Phnom Srok… to the signing of an agreement to provide another 60 million US dollars for Cambodia to operate four projects – 1) the segment of national road 1 between Phnom Penh and Neak Loeung, 2) a small hydroelectric plant in Mondulkiri, 3) scholarships for Cambodian students to study in Japan and 4) clean water in Kompong Cham province. The four areas of assistance addressed directly to what I have said and continued to say that Cambodia needs investments in four areas of priority – water, roads, electricity and human resources. In health sector, Japan has also made numerous contributions ranging from the mother and childcare center, school of medical care in Phnom Penh and others. It is good that all of the assistance to be provided by Japan and projects to be implemented also by Japan as this would make Cambodia safe from being blamed for any corruptions.
As this issue of corruption has been in the press over many days, please allow me to make an explanation to our people because this issue is closely related to the Cambodian image. Cambodia was made to pay 2.7 million US dollars or would have all projects suspended if we were to not do so. It was a painful decision as it involved the recruitment of foreign consultant in the process of bidding for the project. It was all done by them and we were the one to be made responsible for irregularities occurred. This could be in similar trend and I deem that consultants involved should also be probed and if found guilty they should share the burden of paying back the said amount. We have requested the World Bank to provide us the report but they said they would do it later and we have been waiting from June 9 to 15 today. How could we ensure transparency? We demand evidence or we could not act on any decision at all. I am ready to take action as to where and who is involved. Remarks without clear evidence only provides tool for opposition to attack the Royal Government. We have yet to get the report, the opposition demands that we have to take the matter to the National Assembly. I told HE Keat Chhon that all World Bank projects should be implemented the way the Japanese assistance has been handled, as all the money should be in their hands and if any corruption happens, it should be to their responsibility. Investigation must be done to find out the truth and who actually have been involved. The Ministry has to clearly define which project is to be accepted and which to be rejected, as some would be a hidden political agenda – take for instance, a serious outburst could occur in approaching elections.
I wish to say to the opposition that they should not try to overexploit this matter for votes. Cambodia has its dignity and honor. Cambodia used to be surviving bombings, genocide, punishment… etc. As we now have a high growth, we should be punished for achieving it. We would accept our mistake as it is and we will take necessary measures to punish those who have been involved. We also maintain the right to demand World Bank to punish its officials who spent lots of money on consultancy and who gave their signatures so that the project could commence. As far as healthcare is concerned it is indeed important for us to decide what kind of system do we provide – free service or free and charge services combined. How do we keep our healthcare service sustainable when donors withdraw their assistance? With regard to the above incident I would urge our officials to try and work hard so as the state would be more affluent and such a dishonored rebuke would not be a matter of exploitation on us anymore.
It should be to your notice that Cambodia has brought down poverty rate to 28% but what should have everyone attention is that Cambodia is now free from internal war. I warn the opposition that based on 50 + 1 formula if they win they can govern alone but if the CPP wins they will have to continue to be opposition as two parties in the Royal Government are already sufficient. It is sufficient to have FUNCINPEC as partner. The opposition has said in their campaign that they will join the Government in 2008. If they achieve 50 + 1 vote, they could go ahead without CPP, but if CPP wins Hun Sen will become Prime Minister and Nhek Bun Chhay will continue to be Deputy Prime Minister. I would declare that the rectangular strategy phase II would continue as it would not be complete in five year time. CPP has nominated me as its candidate for the post of Prime Minister since 2005 – three years before the elections.
Samdech Hun Sen on that occasion offers to build a building for sewing practice, a set of computer and accessories, and a five-classroom building to the College of Hun Sen-Mongkul Borei, to build a bridge over the river of Mongkul Borei.