I have a great pleasure today to join with HE Oh Nak-young, extraordinary and plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, all of our people here to put into use officially the renovated and improved buildings of the Cambodian-Korean Friendship National Pediatric Hospital (CK-FNPH). As was reminded by HE Mam Bun Heng, Minister of Health, on 22 January 2017, I was here once for the inauguration. Today, I am here again for the improvement and re-equipment of CK-FNPH. I have chosen this date that our people are celebrating the 66th birthday anniversary of HM the King in order for us contribute this new achievement in honor of HM the King.
Two Locations UNTAC Wanted for Its Headquarters and Military Installment
… I used to mention in the past something about this land where we are celebrating these achievements. After the liberation in 1979, World Vision had returned to Cambodia. A pediatric hospital was built under the assistance of World Vision on a part of this land […] and before that it was a field where officials and staffs of the Ministry of Health were transplanting rice […] I had an argument with UNTAC (United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia) twice for locations on this road. Firstly, they demanded one of our university’s location, which was the Institute of sociology to be UNTAC’s Headquarters. They were willing to hire for 600,000 USD per month […] I denied it again and again. In one of my last moves was warning that I would resign because I wouldn’t want the students to go out in the street against me. The UK Ambassador representing the five-perm countries had quickly drawn the meeting’s attention then that “the presence of H.E. Hun Sen” was more important that the UNTAC Headquarters […] Samdech Tia Banh and HE Ieng Moly were present in that meeting. At a later stage, they negotiated again to take this place, the current hospital ground, to bring it Ausco Modular for military installment […] I said why could they not go somewhere else?.
From Mission Chief to Ambassadorial Level in One Year
The RoK Ambassador HE Oh Nak-young reminded us about our diplomatic relation between our two countries. I must make a point that if I did not make a bold decision in 1996, it was difficult to predict what the state of our two countries’ relation would be. I could recall that I worked on this topic since before the signing of the Paris Peace Agreement. We may recall that the Khmer Rouge occupied the Cambodian seat in the United Nations from 1975 through to 1979, and again from 1979 through to 1991, before the Supreme National Council (SNC) replaced it […] South and North Koreas were members of the United Nations and I had then made effort in my wish to have diplomatic relations with the two Koreans altogether. It failed.
In 1992, I tried it again, when diplomats from foreign countries in the State of Cambodia had become representatives of their countries to SNC. Ambassadors of countries with diplomatic relations with tripartite (coalition government) had to shift their diplomatic relations to SNC too. Once again, I tried it (establishing such relations with both Koreas). I failed again. Finally, in 1996, it was my bold decision to sign diplomatic agreement and I visited Seoul, South Korea, under the presidency of HE Kim Young-sam.
I thank the Republic of Korea for accepting for a while such injustice […] there was an ambassadorial level with one Korea but only chief of mission. However, as predicted, economic and other relations had been moving fast and in one year later, 1997, we elevated diplomatic relations to ambassadorial level. It is 21 years now […]
Welcoming North-South Summit, and Forthcoming US-North Korea Summit
I am grateful to the government and people of Korea for supporting and promoting this relation with the Kingdom of Cambodia. The decision to start a strategic diplomatic relation with the Republic of Korea has brought no loss for the people of Cambodia. If it were, I could have been blamed for signing and establishing relation with South Korea, for which many could have blamed me if loss of relation and support from North Korea occurred […] I foresaw no failure in that endeavor. I did not see why establishing with South Korea would jeopardize relation with the North. Many countries in the world have relations with both North and South Koreas at the same time. Weeks ago, there was this meeting between President of Moon Jae-in of South Korea with leader Kim Jung-un of North Korea. People of Cambodia were welcoming the news and expect that situation in the Korean peninsula will progress positively. We are waiting for the would-be historic meeting between the President of the United States of America and the leader of North Korea, which appeared to have been planned to take place in Singapore.
Cambodia and (South) Korea – Countries in-Law and Investment
… As of present, we have noticed that there are many Cambodians living in (South) Korea for work, study, and marital relations. There are over 50,000 of them. Our two countries have become in-law. We have over 10,000 Cambodian-Korean children. Visited Korea, I brought to the attention of the Korean leaders that it is important for them to be bilingual – Khmer and Korea […]
More importantly it is investment. There are many direct flights from South Korea – considering countries outside the region, to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. The Cambodian people who travel to the US through Singapore, Malaysia or other routes have now opted to go through Korea […]
I hope too that Cambodia will benefit more. We have many projects undergoing such as road connectivity in Kandal province to the border between Cambodia and Vietnam, which is almost ready now; the renovation of national road 2, national road 22, and construction of national road 48. They are important projects. As we have friendship bridges built by Japan, China, etc., we should have one friendship bridge by Korea across the river.
Korea-Mekong Top Level, Other Multilateral and Bilateral Mechanisms
Relation between the two countries grows closer. Aside from bilateral we have other relations in the framework of Mekong-Korea that I am proposing to elevate its level from foreign ministerial meeting to the summit of head of states and governments. This is in line with policy going South of President of Korea. It would be good for our South Korean friend to consider this relation elevation as the region already has Lancang-Mekong at Head of State and Government levels already, and so does the Japan-Mekong. Korea would then reach this level too. We may not be able to meet every year. We may aim for like every two or three years for such cooperation to keep going. Cambodia will benefit from such relation […]
We also have mechanism of cooperation between ASEAN and South Korea. When Cambodian hosted the ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, we also hosted President of Korea. In 2002, there were summits of ASEAN and Korea, and ASEAN plus Three. We also have mechanism of cooperation in the framework of East Asia. More importantly, we are proud of our bilateral relation from which Cambodian people are reaping benefits […] today, our people are happy to see that this hospital is happening and ready […]
Resolve Issue of Medical Students from Vietnam
In recent days, we have resolved this issue of equivalency (diploma) for (medical) students studied six years in Vietnam to be medical doctors and that has come to inconsistency with the Cambodian eight-year medical doctors training. They roamed my Facebook with this issue […] the problem here is that medical doctors graduated a few years back from the same school in Vietnam were admitted with medical doctor. Now, from this very same school, we do not bestow them similarly and ordered to test […] I think I have resolved too many problems relating to medicines. In the past, we sent our students for medical studies in Vietnam and they became medical doctors. Now, a point was made about different study duration – six and eight years. (That we have resolved this already) I am sharing this so that HE Mam Bun Heng would work it out with Secretaries of State and Under-Secretaries of State […] let us not either overcook or undercook things […] I know we are seeking improvement of qualification of our (medical) doctors (but we should also find a way to ensure consistency too) […]./.