Thank the People and Government of Japan
I am so happy today that I have a chance to join HE KUROKI Masafumi, Excellencies, Ladies, Gentlemen, Buddhist monks and our people to welcome achievements in the Hospital of Kampong Cham. On behalf of the Royal Government and people of Cambodia, I would like to convey through HE Kuroki, the Japanese Ambassador, our thanks to the people and Government of Japan for this valuable help. I also would like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation for company and contractors for their efforts in building and providing high-quality standard equipments.
HE Mam Bun Heng, Minister of Health, already reported to you the bidding for the construction project was held in Japan by Japanese companies. I think those who have been preaching about misuse of assistance should be aware of this. They may seek clarification from the Japanese embassy. I am here today only to cut the ribbon and declare the project for use by the Cambodian public. These people are bogged with this naïve idea about corruption. How could they blame the Royal Government of Cambodia for corruption when the project was bid in Japan and the construction has been handled by the Japanese company?
As is said by HE Kuroki Masafumi, Kampong Cham is a big province. With a modern hospital in place, there will be patients who seek after the hospital service from adjacent provinces like Kompong Thom, Kartie and a part of Prey Veng provinces too. This has been specially so because we have the Kizuna bridge, also built with the Japanese assistance, that links the estern part of the province to the city.
If I am not mistaken, from 2006 to the present, this is the third time that we received Japanese assistance for the sake of healthcare. Firstly, we put into official use a hospital in Mongkul Borei of Banteay Meanjei province, and secondly, we put into use buildings of School of Medical Care in Phnom Penh. Today, the third of its kind, we put into official use a new (Japanese assisted) achievement in the land of Kampong Cham.
A Hospital of 80 Years
I whispered to HE Kuroki just now that this hospital is now in its 80 years. It was built in 1930. I think it can be considered one of the oldest hospitals we have. The building has been sustained for use as hospital even so in Pol Pot time. Under Pol Pot they called it the Hospital for the Northern region. It was built in 1930. After 1953, when Cambodia achieved independence from France, Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk, under his popular socialist policy, made it even more sophisticated.
In the past the hospital used to have in all six buildings while as of this moment we have reserved only two of them for the sake of building new ones. The two buildings from 80 years ago are preserved for contagious disease treatment and administration. It is to everyone’s knowledge that after January 7, 1979, the Hospital reopened, one day after a hospital at Suong district reopened, with technical assistance and equipment provided by the Vietnamese army, and later by Poland.
In between 1981-85 there was assistance from Switzerland and between 1990 and 1995 there were assistance and expertise provided by Doctor without Border from France and others. As Japan has involved in the later stage for development of the hospital, the Koreans have also provided volunteers and a set of endoscopy machine as well as equipments for baby nursery and care.
Twelve Million USD Improvements, Effective Use Needed
I would like to take this opportune moment to thank HE Hun Neng, the Governor of Kampong Cham province, for his stringent leadership of this province. As is reported, the hospital started construction on March 5, 2009, and HE Yim Chai Ly, Deputy Prime Minister, presided over the ceremony on my behalf. The new buildings are used for 1) women and baby and genecology, as well as post operation room; 2) operation facilities; 3) emergency and X-ray; and 4) shed for generator and water pump. Total cost has been recorded to be about twelve million USD.
HE Kuroki and I are of the opinion that while building or improving facilities has been a difficult job, propping a sustainable operation of the hospital is not an easier task at all. As we have achieved this improvement stage, HE Kuroki and I would urge for common efforts for long lasting and effective use of the buildings and facilities provided for the sake of answering to our people’s need for healthcare and treatment services.
I used to mention about physicians who had to turn to traditional massage for absence of medical equipments. In the past when we expanded medical service to rural areas, it was common situation that there were not enough medicaments, equipments and related materials that our medical staff could use to help deal with treatment demand. When they could not address the need because of lack of medicine and equipment, they resorted to treating our patients with massage. This is not to disapprove them but to thank them for their high morale for attending to patients with whatever they could.
This happened in the past. We have later changed it though. We have set up zones for healthcare and treatment. We have referral hospitals and infirmaries in a set of locations, which include also facilities for storing and preserving vaccines too. Some people have said if they were to win elections they would set up a clinic for each village. How could they fool our people with such a promise?
Lower Women and Children’s Mortality Rate, More Physicians in Rural Needed
It is always easier said than done. Take for instance, at the moment of speaking, we need to allocate midwives throughout the country so as to guarantee that mortality rate among women and children will be brought down. This is not simple and small matter. Number of physicians and areas to be covered with medical service do not seem to have a balance. I hope that annual conference to review health and health related matters in March 2011 will come up with a more specific report of this situation.
I have attended every annual conference of health for the past 32 years and I hope that this up-coming conference will bring me a new report on number of physicians in relation to area covered by their services. It has been a situation that about 70% of medical service has been provided for about 30% of the population in urban areas, whereas some 30% of medical service has been provided for about 70% of the whole population who live in rural areas. I have called for a redistribution of physicians for the sake of more to go and work for people in rural areas. However, distribution of physicians must base not only on proportion of people but also areas of target and expertise needed.
Elimination of Malaria – A Goal
About two weeks ago I have exchanged ideas on possible elimination of malaria with HE Mam Bun Heng, Minister for Health and I hope that leaders of the Ministry of Heal as a whole will take this topic seriously. We have scored achievement on polio fight and elimination. It is our pride. As of now it is our satisfaction that babies have been born, and after their births, with no polio condition. It had been the case that we had concern about polio spread in areas controlled by the Khmer Rouge. However, in those days, there was no way that we could get possibility to send vaccines there. After integration, efforts were made to send vaccines immediately into the areas. The World Health Organization finally assumed the role with us. It was in 2002 that we had come to a final phase of combating polio and declared polio end in Cambodia.
I have suggested to the Minister of Health to work out a specified timeframe for combating and eliminating malaria so that, with the set target, we will be able to mobilize a campaign with materials and forces needed to win over malaria as we did to polio. It is true that for some sicknesses like tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, we may be able to reduce number of people who happen to carry these diseases, but their elimination once and for all would not be feasible.
We may discuss and propose a target timeframe like by 2015 or 2020 for elimination of malaria in Cambodia. By saying this I do not mean that things work out miraculously tomorrow. Of course, there could be people who would claim to be better than I am to claim a shorter timeframe for this task. We are not providing fake and hypocritical timeframe in this fight but a serious say-and-do together. If the Ministry of Health could work a plan out, they should submit it to the Council of Ministers. (To guarantee success) this is a task to be implemented by the whole country and not only by the Ministry and institutions under its supervision.
In fact a number of places/areas where there used to be malaria fatally infected, take for instance Memot, Dambe, Chamka Loeu and a part of Stoeung Trang districts of Kampong Cham, are now in better condition with lesser cases detected.
Sickness from Food Intake
Thirty two years ago, people were dying of Pol Pot’s killing machines or hunger. As of present, the case has now changed. Our people have now been affected by diseases associated with food intake pattern. It has been the case that current food intake has made our people obese and high in cholesterol. People have got stroke because of that. The situation has evolved in a completely different manner now. People do not die of hunger but of eating too much.
(After liberation of January 7, 1979) people were skinny and weak for lack of food. Now many have had problem of bringing their weight down. You may have noticed that there are advertisements on TVs on products that help those who want or need to lose weight. Have you seen they advertise any products for gaining weight? As for myself, I have gained 32 Kg in thirty two years.
I am so happy now that there are more public places for people to exercise and this contributes to their healthcare and development. They exercise and dance and it is a good thing for them to do whatever they wish too in a country of peace. There is no war to harm or worry them anymore. As is said by physicians that ‘it is better to prevent (a disease) than to heal it.’ This is not depending on physicians but on our people themselves. Take traffic accident for instance, that will not depend on Prime Minister, member of the National Assembly or the Senate, but drivers themselves. All must work therefore to keep themselves fit and healthy.
Neak Loeung Bridge’s Ground Breaking
As I have mentioned about the Kizuna Bridge, the first bridge ever built with the Japanese assistance across the Mekong River, I have good news for our people too. On February 12, we will celebrate the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the Neak Loeng Bridge across the lower section of the Mekong River to connect Kandal province on the western river bank to Prey Veng province of the eastern river bank. It will be the biggest, longest and the most difficult bridge to build (in Cambodia).
The bridge needs to be built in a height to allow waterway traffic to carry through beneath from the lower Mekong to Phnom Penh. A thorough study is necessary and therefore it has taken a long time. The project timing for the construction to be completed has been marked to be in 2015. By then, with the new bridge in place, we will eventually cease the operation of another ferry service. The bridge to be assisted by Japan will cost some 130 million USD and its will provide service benefit not only for Kandal and Prey Veng provinces but for the whole country.
Also, the bridge will be serving interest of Cambodia, the Greater Mekong Sub-regional and ASEAN integration efforts too as it will be a part of ASEAN highway. This is another achievement after Japan helps us build a section of National Road 1, which is running through this bridge, from Phnom Penh through to Neak Loeung already.
Who Could Bring Pol Pot’s Senior Leaders to Trial?
Let me take a moment to clarify on issue relating to (Human Right Watch’s Executive Director of Asia Division) Brad Adams’s comments, which have caused reactions in support of me by various groups of people on TVs. The most important point has been that this gentleman is not quite approving with the fact that Hun Sen has maintained a leadership (in Cambodia), in his mind, for too long, while the opposition is dwindling. Let me assure you that my leadership will not just dwindle but eventually make it pass away.
They may need to answer simple questions – if it were without Hun Sen’s role, could anyone dismantle Pol Pot’s organization politically and militarily, and bring Pol Pot’s senior leaders to trial? Pol Pot was a brutal killer. Pol Pot almost controlled and commanded the whole (political settlement) negotiation in Paris. One may ask Khieu Samphan for clarification about that. Who could lure Khieu Samphan out of his lair in the jungle? As you can trace back now that I have been the one who not only weakened the opposition, in this case the Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge, but also neutralized it.
Let it be known that whether the opposition is strong or weak is not because of Hun Sen, but because of the opposition itself. I am just one man out of many in the Cambodian People’s Party leadership. As a politician, I have the duty to make my party strong and invincible. If you have similar agenda and aim for your party, you may have to compete in performing good actions for the people’s interest and enter the contest once in every five years.
Cambodia Cannot Be Compared with Tunisia
Someone (a politician) said once in 2003 and now s/he has said it again and I have asked my people to track down records. S/he has used the recent Tunisian turmoil as an example (in ending the President’s term). In 2005, it was the same person who demanded that power be revoked and given to then HM the King Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk before elections be held. It has been stipulated clearly in the Constitution that while elections are to be held in every five years, the National Assembly cannot be dissolved unless the National Assembly dissolves the Royal Government twice in a period of twelve months.
As you can see that the Cambodian Constitution is in itself very well balanced. The National Assembly could not even dissolve itself and the Prime Minister could not either. It has also been stipulated clearly that on Sunday of the fourth week of July every five years, an election is to be held. No elections could be held before or after that fixed date. So, the opposition will have to wait for Sunday of the fourth week of July in 2013 in order to bring this issue up again. Well, in one month prior to the set timeframe, every politician can assume themselves to be Prime Minister and promise people what they would do if ever they are going to be elected.
All in all, they may be warned not to instigate strikes like they have seen and used as example of situation in Tunisia. I would not tolerate such action. As Prime Minister I have the duty to protect the country’s Constitution and no such anarchic situation would be consented. There is a possibility for civil war in Tunisia after the President left his post. There are circles in Tunisia who are not happy with the provisional government. So the future there is still grim.
Double Standard Remarks
S/he also said something about my wife being the President of the Cambodian Red Cross. My wife would be happy if she is relieved from the position and stay home with her grandchildren. In every Cambodian Red Cross congress, my wife always declares for someone to post his/her candidacy for the position. How could they hope for their candidacies to be considered and/or elected since they have been very well known about embezzling other people’s money?
They also have said about my son, Hun Manet, being promoted to two-star general. What are we training people for? My son has been in the army since 1994 and was a graduate from the US Military Academy at West Point. His military service has now been 16 years too. What do they expect me to make use of my son (after so much he had studied?).
These people are good at making remarks and such but they never say a word about some in their circle that both husband and wife are all parliamentarians. What a double standard is that?
In short, it would illustrate better the opposition’s nature if they come out saying that they would stand no chance to be elected if Hun Sen continues to be a candidate for the position. You should just thank Hun Sen because if it were not for Hun Sen, they may not be able to scold the Prime Minister everyday at all.
What Would Happen without Hun Sen?
I was the one (who represented Phnom Penh) to conduct peace talk in Paris. If I were to refuse and sign no deal, then make a report to Samdech Chea Sim and Samdech Heng Samrin that there is no way that we can reach the deal, who would be able to hammer out the deal? That said, I must also ask which faction could topple the Phnom Penh’s government by military means.
On June 4, 1990 and June 2, 1991, Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk and Samdech Preah Reaj Akka Mohesei (Monineath Sihanouk) said to me that ‘Excellency, I ask to go to Phnom Penh with you. The Khmer Rouge said your Government would collapse as soon as the Vietnamese troop withdraws. Not only does your government does not fall but it has grown stronger and retaken nearly all the land (under their control). I must go back to Phnom Penh.’
In another instance, I asked Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk where he would like to stay – at Chamka Mon (former President’s palace) or Khemarin palace (in the Royal Palace). Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk said, and it was taped too, that he would not like to be made King again but if he were to be allowed to stay at the Khemarin palace, he would be most happy.
I ordered Samdech Kong Sam Ol, then permanent Deputy Prime Minister, to start renovating the Royal Palace. We then amended the Constitution in which the People’s Republic of Kampuchea was renamed as State of Cambodia, and changes had been made to national flag as well as to a number of articles therein.
It was consented to maintain the Constitution of the State of Cambodia, the national anthem and flag, whereas HE Heng Samrin was then the President of the State Council, HE Chea Sim was the President of the National Assembly, and HE Hun Sen was the Prime Minister. There was a proposition to set up a National Presidium, in which Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk would be President, HE Hun Sen would be Vice President and there would be some members which could be consisting of HE Nhoek Julong as well. That was part of the solution to the whole internal Cambodian problem only. Another step was then taken to approach what is called the framework agreement for a comprehensive solution on all aspects, internal and external, of the Cambodian problem. Again, if I were to sign no deal then, who would have the chance to do so?
I am sure HE Ieng Mouly (former member of the Son San’s faction) could have remembered that. It was even more difficult when it came to decide about the Supreme National Council’s decision making process. It had been stipulated that in absence of consensus among the SNC, final decision would have to be given by the Head of the UNTAC (United Nations Transitional Authority for Cambodia).
The State of Cambodia faction at that time proposed that final decision must be given to Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk, President of the Supreme National Council. There was this disagreement among SNC members too as (the late) HE Son San would like the seats to be arranged in order of ages. I said then that it is international practice to arrange seats in alphabetical order, and I rebuked French (protocol) when they did that once in Paris. I was asked later if it was true that I respected Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk’s choice that in absence of consensus among SNC members, final decision must be made by UNTAC head.
Michael Costello of Australia said to me in a meal that (Richard) Solomon (of the US State Department) asked him to verify if my decision had been approved by Phnom Penh. I told Costello to assure that whatever I decided in the course of negotiation was official. In fact I had been assigned with full power (by the Party and the State) for conducting the negotiation or I would not have to go there too.
Opposition – Alive in Weakness; Coming in and Going Out Constitutionally
So I presume that everyone in his right mind would agree with the fact that if it were not thanks to Hun Sen, those opposition people would not have a chance to stand their ground scolding and the war would also have been endless too. Why did they not say so? In the Khmer Rouge context, I have said already that I did not just weaken them but made them pass out. I would not take your breath away on the other hand. I would rather leave you in a state of being alive in weakness.
As far as this issue of holding on for too long in power, I would say in short that that would not depend on me. In 2013, if the Cambodian people no longer need me, I would step out. They do not have to chase me out. I will go to the Council of Ministers’ Santepheap Building to pass my service to the would-be successor. My whole team will walk out. I came in through the Constitution. So, I go out also according to the Constitution. Is not it democratic?