Selected Comments Samdech Techo Hun Sen at the Inauguration of New Buildings in the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital (KSFH) [Unofficial Translation]



I am so happy to join with all of our Buddhist monks, Excellecies, Lok Chumteavs, ladies and gentlemen to inaugurate a six-floor building named after Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen […] that is not my real aim here. Giving a name is a good thing but it would not last for what would happen later. In Cambodia, we have come across so many times when old things either removed or destroyed (for political reasons). Under Lon Nol time, they had removed everything that was under the name our former King Samdech Preah Borom Ratanakaod […] however, I am so grateful for your good intention to name the new building after my name.

I am so happy to see new achievement that we are putting into official use at the beginning of a new year. Though Cambodia is a Buddhist calendar country and we have our New Year in April, we also observe international New Year because for one reason Cambodia was also controlled in the past by France, a Christian country, and for another reason, we have to close financial bookkeeping too. Today is the fourth of January. It is not too late for me to wish you a Happy New Year […] I should remind us that on 6 August 2015, HM the King, Samdech Preah Baat Preah Borom Neat Preah Norodom Sihamoni, and HM the Queen Mother Norodom Monineat Sihanouk, also blessed us with their presences inaugurated a new building in the hospital as well […]

Achievements before the Coup on 18 March 1970

If I am not wrong, about 50 years ago, I also came to attend the sick once in this hospital. I could recall that on every Saturday night, there was show of films – first, documentary on progress scored by the Sangkumreastr Niyum and later French movies. The former Soviet Union had provided many assistances to Cambodia in those days. It was an important part of international relations efforts made by the Kingdom of Cambodia under the leadership of Preah Borom Ratanakaod. It is worth naming some of them – the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, the Institute of Technology, and various other assistances in infrastructures for the sake of economic, human resource as well as social affairs development.

In those days, we could understand that it was a time of ideological and cold war era. Our King Father implemented a neutral policy and he had to face with cut of assistance by some countries. However, he never stopped searching for solutions for Cambodia at the time that war raged around Cambodia in South Vietnam and Laos. Particularly, by upholding the country’s neutral policy, Samdech Preah Borom Ratanakaod was able to keep our country in peace, and sought partners who provided assistances and investments too […] those achievements were destroyed or removed right after the coup on 18 March 1970. It was a sad memory. Should there be no coup, there would not be a war, and more so, there would not be a genocide.

A Documentary on the March to Liberate Cambodia

Last night, many TV channels got a documentary on air about the March to Liberate Cambodia. I was just 25 years old and I had to leave the country in tears and suffering to seek for way to liberate our motherland. I would not have thought that a young boy from 50 years ago had such chance to contribute to the revival and operation of this hospital after the liberation on 7 January 1979. A man’s destiny is truly unpredictable. I did not have an ambition to become a Prime Minister or Minister. I just wish in those days to be a teacher. I would not pick up a medical career either because I never like to see syringe needles […]

Tomorrow, will be the 43rd anniversary of my marriage on 5 January 1976. The wedding was none like those we have these days. It was one for thirteen couples. We dressed in black and they seated us in two rows – female row in front and male row behind […] it was a wedding organized by the Pol Pot’s Angka (orgnaization) for the handicapped. I was lucky that my wife and I were the only couple that we had expressed feelings with one another. The rest of them were coupled by the Angka. In the course of the wedding, they asked me if I could change my wife into a proletarian class […] it was a silly question. Maybe because my wife was white and with a beauty […]

There Were Not Many Physicians in 1979

… I also wish to have anyone grandchild to become a physician. It is now over for my children. I have a daughter in law. Hun Manet’s wife, who has a Ph D in public health […] but because we have to be precautious of possible criticism if appointing into certain portfolio, she decided to stay outside. We did this much and there were still criticism. I just wish to ask them back why on earth that I have them educated? Shall I have them buried away? Now I let my daughter in law leading a group of physicians, who work not in state hospitals but in the name of my charity to check and treat people’s health in needy areas […]

I remember well that in 1979, when we came into Phnom Penh, there were not many physicians. They were scarce. We were able to gather some of them left from the killing regime of Pol Pot. We also found some students from the Faculty of Medicines who had later become Doctors and professors, such as Dr Thia Kruy, etc. […] our health sector was very weak and I used to mention about coin-massage or Gua Sha. In those days, because of lack of medical staff in local health clinics and short of skills and medicines, physicians had to resort to Gua Sha for patients. I did not mean to devalue our physicians. On the contrary, I see this as an invaluable virtue of our physicians […]

They had tried to suffocate us after the fall of Pol Pot. There were not much assistances in those days. Certain hospitals were back in operation but in difficult conditions. As of these days, the situation has improved. The Royal Government and development partners have provided tremendous investments and built necessary infrastructure for health […]

CPP Focuses Attention on Health and Wellbeing

While we had not many physicians, we also had to send them to local level. There is still a need for redistribution of physicians. For the past 38 years, I always attended annual national conference on health, except once in the year before last, that I could not make it. I sent Samdech Sar Kheng on my behalf […] I remember that the first national health conference held in the Faculty of Medicine. It was the same day that we reopened the school. The first tertiary education in Cambodia to reopen in those days was the School of Medicines. This means that the Cambodian People’s Party focused on people’s health and wellbeing from the very beginning […] In closing that very first conference, I could recall meeting then Health Minister Nou Beng, HE Yit Kimseng, Nut Savoeun, Jey Kanha, etc.

2018 – Implementing Social Protection Policies

In the past year 2017, we issued so many programs relating to social protection and this year, we are putting into actions these visions that incorporate some three millions registered and non-registered workers for benefits from equitable fund. The Minister of Health, HE Mam Bun Heng already mentioned about hospitals’ roles in this equitable fund policy implementation. Soon, we will have bigger number to deal with, including those tricycles drivers I mentioned about yesterday to have access to free-of-charge medical checkup and treatments. There will soon be a fund to support those workers of tricycles trade […] I just need to know for sure how many workers involved in this trade? My wife and I have a good understanding on this matter and we are figuring out how to help them […] let us remember that the equity fund has added roughly three million people in the whole country – registered and non-registered sectors workers. They now take free-of-charge health benefits in state hospitals as I said. I have high appreciation for the Ministry of Health and our physicians and medical staffs for taking these social protection policies seriously and implementing them in the past and at present.

Successes in Preventing Diseases Outbreaks

We have scored uncountable progresses and we still have more grounds to cover. In 1990s, when we first started campaign for the elimination of polio using vaccination between 1994 and 1995, I was of strong belief that we would achieve limited goal. The main reason was because the country was divided and under two controls, and two governments. UNTAC spent two billion USD to implement the Paris Peace Agreement but they left Cambodia in two control areas when they wrapped up their missions. UNTAC did not make 100% peace for Cambodia. UNTAC could not even enter the Khmer Rouge zone […] in that development, how could we put a halt to polio. We could realize our goal in the Royal Government controlled area but not that of the Khmer Rouge’s […]

It was until early 1996, when the win-win policy was in action, that the (Khmer Rouge’s) Oral area broke out and defected. In August 1996, defections broke out in other areas – Malai, Pailin, Komrieng, Phnom Proek, Samlot, Taken Koh Sla, etc. Only in that development that we were able to take prompt actions and provide vaccines for polio in those areas. Later, in late 1998, we extended integration into the Anlong Veng area – the last stronghold of the Khmer Rouge. We took swift actions and realized our goal of putting a halt and eliminating polio in the whole country in 2000 […]

In the mean time I am working with neighboring countries – the Kingdom of Thailand, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and the People’s Democratic Republic of Laos to ensure healthcare access for people living along the border areas. In numerous cases, sending patients from border areas to hospitals deep inside the country far from their places of residences would not be a timely way of helping them. With such cooperation, they could just cross the border and take vaccination on the other side. That would be easy […] we also have cooperation to prevent other outbreaks […]

Preventing SARS in 2002-03

Cambodia was proud to help prevent the outbreak of SARS in 2002 and 2003. It was in the time when Cambodia was chairing ASEAN. After hosting the summit in 2002, continuing to chair ASEAN, there was a marvelous job I did in cooperation with then Singaporean Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. It was about taking initiative on SARS … SARS did not come to Cambodia. On the contrary, SARS protecting clothing was manufactured in Cambodia’s Kompong Cham and send to various countries.

H5N1, Swine Flu, HIV/AIDS, and Smoking

Few days ago there were two cases of H5N1 – one was in Kompong Cham and another Kompong Thom. Generally, we have been able to avert outbreak of such diseases. Unfortunately, in time of swine flu, I was the one to have got it. I went to the Cabinet meeting. When I returned, I had a high temperature. Then, my wife got it too. It started from HE Yim Chhayli, and Chhay Than […] More importantly, I am proud to be able to prevent and cut down quickly HIV/AIDS. Compared to achievements in other countries, where figure of HIV/AIDS carrier is still high, in Cambodia, we have a gradual reduction. This is one first thing I am proud of. Secondly, I went around meeting with some 300,000 workers. I did not get any cigarette smells among them. I think Cambodia is making good progress in relation to keeping good health by not smoking […]

Many Have Learnt from Cambodia

We have built necessary infrastructures to serve requirement for wellbeing of our people. I would not say a lot but rather a story of success in the past 39 years after the liberation on 7 January 1979. In three days we are celebrating the anniversary of the liberation. In 2000, I sat having meal with the President of Sao Tome and Principe […] who told me that six medical staff from Sao Tome and Principe were taking their training in Cambodia. He said it was a World Bank program […] as you can see that some had sent their technicians and/or specialists to learn from us Cambodia through so and so but they were afraid to say it because they were worried that the Cambodian People’s Party would reap the benefit […] Some said it in vague way about Cambodia’s strong economic growth and before-schedule realization of social indicators of the millennium development goals […]

Doing Away Medical Staffs Shortcomings

Though we still have shortcomings in some instances, I would just wish to convey my appreciation and deep thanks for our health officials and physicians of all levels for efforts they made to provide our people with treatments. Some had said that it (shortcomings) had brought about a loss of some 75% of our GDP. It was in 2006. I reacted strongly to that remark. How could a household survive if it had to suffer a loss of 75% with every 100 they earn […] though so and so have been making noises concerning our medical personnel, officials and physicians, I still think that majority of them are caring for our people’s wellbeing. However, we must also make efforts to improve where we did not do well […] we cannot make a new statement of progress only because we have better tool, hospitals, and training, while neglecting professional ethics and responsibility to treat patients. I am calling on our medical professional and staff to raise high their medical professional ethics and to provide treatment for our people without discrimination. I also call on our medical professionals to continue to research and train themselves to strengthen their capacity, knowledge, and skills in using new tools available […]

Let’s Take Care of Ourselves

… I am of the opinion with what every Doctor has said everywhere – “prevention is better than treatment.” Let us do and not wait till we are sick to find treatment. When one is sick, no one person could ever be sick on your behalf […] People should learn of ways to take care of their own health. Some have criticized the Royal Government and competent authority, for instance about foodstuff that are responsible for chemicals composition and preservation that harm human lives. I just urge them to not buy them […] Peace is now guaranteed. I wish to take this moment to call on our people to respect traffic law or they would give medical people a hard time […]

Yesterday, Samdech Krola Haom Sar Kheng affirmed that some 77% of traffic accidents caused by riding without helmets on. It seemed traffic accidents caused more deaths than war. In time that the country is at peace, people should avoid creating crisis for themselves. They should not make their lives fragile because of more money they make, good transport means they have, and traffic law they do not abide by. They must protect themselves. We have used a major number of blood donated for saving lives of traffic accident victims […]

I thank you very much for your attention and hope that we will work together to create more achievements of invaluable human resources for Cambodia with good health and good education. That is our goal. We have more works to do and many challenges to face with […] Once again, I am calling on our people to keep their health in good condition, and themselves safe from consumption, hygiene, and accidents […]./.