Selected Comments Samdech Techo Hun Sen,​ to the Press on Building Collapse Search and Rescue Operation in Preah Sihanouk Province [Unofficial Translation]

33

CNV:

A Sad Incident Causing Loss of Lives and Injuries

We can now meet finally. It is a special time that I will let you ask me whatever questions you may have (after my statement). To commence with, I wish to take this moment to convey my deep condolences to those who lost their lives and those injured in this tragic incident (of seven-floors building collapse). Should I have no other obligation to attend the ASEAN Summit for which I could not cancel my journey, I would have been at the incident site since the morning when the incident happened. Still, in the course of the ASEAN summit, I had briefing with and reports from HE Yun Min, the governor of Preah Sihanouk province, the CPP working group leader, Say Sam Al, chief of staff Vong Pisen, and Mayor Sok Leng.

It is the first ever operation of its kind in Cambodia. It is a sad and tragic case. I wish to take this opportune moment to express my sincere appreciation and thanks to everyone taking parts in the search and rescue operation. Thanks to their efforts, a few hours back, we could save a few more lives. I thank people of all strata and political parties in Cambodia who have contributed materials and even kind hearts for the operation expressing their solidarity and sadness over the loss of lives and the cause of injuries on our compatriots. I had had a feeling that there could be some victims alive that we had to make more efforts. Upon my return from Bangkok, I could not rest. I made my journey here. It turned out, as everybody say it, we finally got through to them alive […]

A Technical Team Set Up

The tragedy has indeed illustrated state and competent authorities’ responsibilities. On this particular topic, I have said on various occasions that should the concerned authorities be incompetent to prevent illegal constructions, where do we define the state power? Perhaps, in that case, the jobs of governor and/or mayor should be given to perpetrators. This has been an experience and we are setting up a committee to inspect constructions led by Deputy Prime Minister HE Chea Sophara. It will be a political setup. Deputy Prime Minister Chea Sophara must convened together people with real technical expertise to conduct their studies and give evaluations to buildings under construction. Ones without permission must be stopped. There must be no more of such incident […]

Governor Yun Min Resigned

The governor of Preah Sihanouk province HE Yun Min has accepted responsibilities before the Cambodian people and requested to leave his position. Many have talked about stripping him off his position while the incident happened […] I affirmed to those comments this was not the time to concentrate on removing this or that person but to search and rescue to save lives. As for the task of having people accepting their responsibilities, we are carrying it through. We must not allow interventions that cause things to go either too left or too right. Should we remove HE Yun Min right when things went haywire, who would be in his place to lead search and rescue operation? Though he may have some shortcomings, I wholeheartedly thank HE Yun Min for his efforts […]

28 Dead, 26 Injured, Financial Help

We have completed this mission and the death toll has accounted to 28, and 26 injured, two of whom we just pulled out a few hours back […] I met them in the ambulance. I followed them to the hospital. I also visited other victims there. It was sad. I am held by grief for what has happened to take lives of our people and it was a moment I think of those children who have lost their parents (because of such incident). No matter how much, money is no comparison to life. We will make efforts to resolve this matter and assist those children. I am taking this moment to express my sincere appreciation and thank to generous donors for those who lost their lives. Ever since when I was in Bangkok, I instructed donation of 10,000 USD for each deceased and five million Riel for each injured one. Thanks to response to my appeal, we have more contributions and we will be able to offer a sum of 30,000 USD for the last two victims just pulled out and not less than 60,000 USD for each deceased.

Being Present on the Sport Helps

(In his positions as Senior Minister) in charge of special mission and First Vice President of the National Committee for Disaster Management, I received no report from him […] after a meeting (in the ASEAN Summit) I sent him a message to him asking his where about. It was unresponsive. I asked the governor HE Yun Min if he could see HE Nhim Vanda anywhere near him. I asked to HE Say Sam Al the same question. I called him on phone. He did not answer it. I asked Deputy Prime Minister HE Bin Chhin to account for Nhim Vanda. At about 5am, I received a long report from him. That was not what I wanted. I think I have reserved so much understanding on this. When I arrived on the site yesterday I asked him where he was, he said he was at the site. It has been irresponsible and inconsistent […] I decided to remove him as the Cabinet member while retaining him as adviser to the Royal Government. If there were a well-led operation, we could have saved more lives […] this has been an experience that no matter how few lives an incident would involve, being present and standing in command on the spot helps.

Search and Rescue Operation Over, Investigations On

I am really saddened by what happened. We used to hear about building collapses elsewhere such as Bangladesh, India, China, etc. Now it happened in Cambodia. There used to be some small incidents, I reckon. This has been an incident that called for a big operation. As of this hour, we are declaring search and rescue operation completed […] however, we have not finished the investigation of what happened and the responsibilities involved […] once again, I thank the reporters for their busy and tireless efforts to cover live the news of what has been going on here to the public […]./.