Selected Comments Samdech Techo Hun Sen at the Meeting with Factories Workers and Employees in the Tuol Pongro Area [Unofficial Translation]

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CNV: 

Beware of Cool Weather

Today there is a cool wind coming. Yesterday, if you notice, I was in sweat when I visited workers and employees. On the contrary, everyone is putting on jackets of some kinds to protect their body heat from cool temperature … the Ministry of Water Resource and Meteorology has informed days ago of this coming low temperature weather and warned our people, especially elderly ones, of it. We had distributed cold weather jackets since October among soldiers.

Cool weather has come this year not only to Cambodia. It has come to countries in South Asia all the way to South East Asia, and more naturally to East Asian countries like China, Japan, and Korea. It is a normal pattern of weather condition and every family must take care of their loved ones. We also need to see if our people have what they need to protect themselves. I am sure those who sell cold-weather coats are making good businesses.

We are not sure yet if this weather is going to go away on 22 December. Weather can change abruptly. This was just a weather forecast. The matter is now that we are in cool weather. We are calling on our people to make efforts to protect their family members, especially old aged one, from cold and other related diseases […]

I wish to take this opportune moment to express my sincere thanks for the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training, the Municipal of Phnom Penh, and factories owners, for organizing this meeting and allowing workers to join it […]

My presence here and in previous other places has been very enjoyable. I thank you workers and employees for your conferment of affections to me as your leader. What I have noticed was that your gesture has come straight out from your hearts and minds, and they are no different to the ones you are giving to your grandparents and parents. That has brought me the feeling that you have a good feeling and understanding on works that your grandparents and parents, and I had been going through until we are getting to where we are now […]

No Growing Figures of Smokers, HIV/AIDS Carriers Wind Down

I wish to take this opportune moment to share my pride of Cambodia. As I went through meetings with some 300,000 populations so far, I have had lot of selfies with our people. I have noticed that there was no smell of cigarettes of any kinds at all. That is the pride of our nation. We do not have growing number of smokers among younger population and I see that old aged people also stopped their smoking. Many countries cannot achieve this. They have problem of smoking among younger population. The figure is going up. In Cambodia, we are scoring a great success in preventing, reducing and eventually ending smoking […]

Another pride for Cambodia is that we have reduced number of HIV/AIDS carriers. HIV/AIDS came to Cambodia during UNTAC time … we have done a great job as the number of HIV/AIDS carrier has not grown and on the other hand has winded down thanks to efforts to provide infected ones with medicines to prolong their lives and measures to prevent further outbreak. In my second meeting with factories workers and employees at the Canadia Park, I met a female worker who told me she is an HIV/AIDS carrier and her husband too. It was a good thing that factory owners give them jobs. That has indicated no discrimination among HIV/AIDS carriers.

Lately, I also met with disable people recruited by factories for jobs that they can do. I also meet just now a young person with disability from birth who has a job too. These are Cambodian prides and affections. This feeling is not for me personally but for the contributions with pride shared by your grandparents and parents, and by you too, for supporting the Cambodian People’s Party to continue to lead the country. It is our common pride, and with this pride, you have chance to have jobs and incomes.

1 January 2018 – Workers Are Entitled to 170 USD Basic Salary

In just 11 days, we will say goodbye to 2017, when our workers’ basic salary of 153 USD will be over. We will come to 170 USD basic salary that will commence on 1 January 2018. We also have here some 478 female workers who are in their pregnancies. We will also put into practice our policy to provide cash in assistance for delivering mothers … the forthcoming year is one that our workers, registered and non-registered ones, will benefit from many advantages such as free medical checkups and treatments in state hospitals. That is a part of social equity fund. We have already made decision. This is just a reminder.

Economic Growth, Speeding Up Industrial Development, Poverty Alleviation

We have made efforts to bring our country from the least income into lower-middle income status. We have ambition to move our country into higher-middle income by 2030, and high-income country by 2050. This is our vision, but also a roadmap for our country’s economic progress. It is in this sense that we are working on both implementing industrial development policy and national policy for social protection, which we initially started among workers … we are also taking responsibility also on reducing mortal rates of mother and child, increasing nutrition among our workers, as well as female sportsmen […]

We have moved our country out of (100%) poverty (rate) in 1979 after the liberation of our country from Pol Pot. We have not yet conducted a review of survey of poverty rate yet. According to our survey in 2014, Cambodia’s poverty rate has stayed at 13%. We have estimated that the poverty rate may now be around ten percent. We have brought our country out of war and division and have become a country in full peace, and national unity. Cambodia had only recently been a country of division, no less than two factions each time. After the coup against Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk, war broke out in Cambodia. Such fate had been here long before then. To track back in a long history, the state of division happened in about 500 years ago. In a shorter perspective, it happened since when the France colonized Cambodia, French was on one side and the guerrilla was on the other … with win-win policy in place, we have been able to reunite our country … no victory anyone can score without people’s participation. Your previous generations, grandparents and parents have been the ones that supported the Cambodian People’s Party, for which I am one of their leaders. In just days ahead, we will be celebrating January 7, and we will come to the 39th anniversary that CPP is in power […]

Establishment of Bank for Small and Medium Enterprises

We will celebrate in a few days the sea festival at Kep province, which is a part of our campaigns for our rising star in southwest of the country to attract tourists along with temples at Siem Reap, for which we received 5.5 million tourists last year. This year, we are expecting to close at 5.6 million or 5.7 million. I wish to take this opportune moment to affirm that, though it is in the stage of consideration, I have already made up my mind to set up a new bank to provide financial access to small and medium enterprises. We have a rural development bank to provide credit for rural development. As we are now into small and medium industry that will provide value added for local processing. That will provide jobs and resolve local need and competition for export.

We will invest in setting up banks to provide credits for small and medium enterprises for the sake of increasing productivity, creating jobs and trades for our people. Countries in this world are depending on one another. We import goods from outside and we are exporting goods to other countries. We must remember that only poor countries will benefit from favor tax systems when they export into countries like the United States of America. In 1990s, we received also MFN (most favored nations status) but it ended in 2004. Exporting goods to the US, we have exercised normal tax requirement.

As for Europe, anything but arms are waiting for its time. When a country progresses to a certain level, they will remove the favor of “anything but arms.” They will provide this status to other least developed countries. As Cambodia has come to lower-middle income countries status, some countries have already wished to demand us to use commercial interest loans already. We have proposed to our partners to maintain concessional interest loans status for Cambodia. That they have agreed to do so, it is a very understanding position taken from the part of our partners.

Making Cambodia’s Economy Resilient

It is in this meaning that we have made efforts to make our economy resilient. Many countries are looking for assistance. We also needed it. However, when Cambodia has made progress to certain level, donor countries would gradually withdraw their assistances. Export of goods to other countries would in fact be a meter for measuring our development. Take for instance in 2004 the US had already ceased its MFN on Cambodia and it was in those days that the World Bank and IMF forecasted only 2.5 growth for our economy.

After negotiation, the World Bank and IMF agreed that in 2005, Cambodian economic growth was 4.5%. I said to HE Keat Chhon (then Minister of Economy and Finance) should Cambodia lose the US’s MFN; would Cambodia be dead. I told him to accept their forecast of 4.5% economic growth. In 2005, we have realized 13.3% economic growth. It was a record breaking in Asia. In those days, Cambodian economy was not depending on anyone at all. We just have more options at hands.

Today, I wish to send out a message that the Royal Government will set up bank specialized in providing financial access to small and medium enterprises. We will start from 100 million USD. Prime Minister has already said this and we will not back away. Political parties that are not in power would speak anything but they have no responsibility to make it happen. Incumbent Prime Minister has spoken and must make it happen.

In a short time to come, we will create more jobs for our people. We will promote local productivity and respond to export demand. We have between 25,000 and 30,000 labor forces coming into job market. In this development, we cannot depend only on one sector. We are getting this done in order to respond to demand for jobs in agriculture, industry and manufacturing. Jobs creation in service sector also is a part of national economic progress. Through consolidation of resilience of our economy, we would be able to fight back crisis that comes endlessly from outside.

House Owners Should Not Jack Up Rent

I thank you for a piece of news in social media … about house rent. I have shared that with Minister of Labor and Vocational Training, and Mayor of Phnom Penh. The house owner already clarified that it was a misunderstanding. The house owner does not jack up the rent. In 2018, house rent must stay where it was in 2017. If anyone house owner demands more, he/she may ask for it from Techo Sen. I am declaring now, any house owner, whom I have already asked for understanding not to jack up rent in 2018, wishes to jack up the rent, she/he may ask from me […]

Social Protection Policy on Pregnancy Could Be for Whole Nation

In commencing social protection policy, I have singled out women in pregnancy as the first priority. We are reviewing and considering if this policy is applicable for the whole nation. Applying this policy for registered and non-registered workers, we would spend only about ten million USD per annum. According to statistics of the Ministry of Health, we have about 300,000 women in deliveries per annum. With this statistics, we may only spend about 30 million USD. We will take into consideration this point according to growth of our economy.

However, we are implementing this policy initially for female workers to have access to checkup and delivery free of charges in state hospitals, and to provision of cash assistance of 400,000 Riel for one baby delivery, three-month convalescence period, and 120% salary, 70% of which is from national social security fund and 50% is from factories owners […]

Prime Minister for Ten More Years

I hope tar you will take part in keeping our country developed and free from war. We have already removed those who wished to start color revolution. We gave them no chance to bring destruction to our country. Under how much pressure we are taking, we will not let our people die again. In 2018, we will have elections. The National Elections Committee is posting their voters lists already. Please go check your information and use your voting rights on 29 July 2018 to choose whichever political party you may like for leading the country. On 25 February 2018, we also will have the Senate elections, for which four political parties have registered and joined the elections. However, it is a non-universal suffrage so only commune councilors, incumbent members of National Assembly, will have the rights to vote … we will choose new members of the National Assembly, and will have a new Royal Government too. I hope firmly that you and your grandparents and parents will continue to vote for the Cambodian People’s Party.

I have already declared that I will continue my Premiership for the next at least ten years. I wish to see continuing development and achievements that you, your parents, your grandparents and I have worked together for them. I wish to see an even lower poverty rate of our country and our people’s income will jump from 1,500 USD per person to no less than 3,000 USD per person […] according to calculation of the United Nations, people living under poverty line earn less than 1.25 USD per day. Previously it was one USD. These days, our workers – registered or non-registered, have earned no less than four USD per day […] your living condition and that of your parents in the countryside have improved accordingly. They may build new houses, and buy means of productions, etc.

Cambodia Is No Hostage to Anyone

Democracy and liberal pluralism continue with or without certain people. I just advised them to use their political rights and set up new political parties to compete in the forthcoming elections. They reproached me. I just tell them that it was my good intention. Whether you do or not, will have no impact on national process. With you joining or not, the elections will go on. There is no hope for revival of the dissolved party. I have no need to speak on that anymore … Cambodia is not a hostage to anyone. Cambodia belongs to Cambodians. When it is time for elections, people will go to vote and parties will run for supports […]

It will be up to them. My problem here is to make sure Cambodia is at peace and continuing on the path of development. Cambodia is continuing its path of democracy, liberal pluralism, and will be organizing elections regularly, in a free, just, transparent, and acceptable standard. These are my jobs. For those traitors, it is job of the court. I have no need to talk about it […] they have misread my good intention. They should not take my advice then […] we have some new songs to listen today and new singers too […]./.