Selected Comments from Voice Message Samdech Techo Hun Sen, on Storing of Strategic Items in the Campaign to fight against Covid-19


Let me send this voice message to leaders involved in the fight against Covid-19 as well as relevant leading figures on the Royal Government and concerned sections (about storing items in strategic stock of the Royal Government).

So far, we have already stored and been prepared and there has not been a failure yet. While some foreigners downgraded us in the press, it is worth noting that their own countries failed to perform public health measures for their own people. For Cambodia, we are proud because the Ministry of Health and related sectors – such as food storage, etc. have fulfilled their tasks very effectively.

So far, I have issued order to purchase 5.2 million masks and 200,000 masks for medical staff, plus 5,000 sets of medical gowns with goggles and/or gloves, aprons, etc. – personal protective gears/equipment, we purchase either from local factories or from suppliers abroad. They are necessary. We would not risk having our medical staff infected because of lack of responsibility from our part. Let me now issue more orders to add on to storage of those materials of the Royal Government.

I have issued an order to store 10 million masks. We must refill the stock every time we used any number of them. The number on stock must stay 10 million at all time […] we purchase more from abroad and the factory in the province of Preah Sihanouk must continue to produce for us. The number of masks that we have in stock must not be less than 10 million. If local factories could produce more, we also must purchase to add to strategic storage (of items) of the Royal Government.

As for the 5,000 sets of personal protective gears/equipment (PPG/E), we continue to place order from abroad and from local suppliers […] while we had 34,000 N95 masks for medical staff in stock of the Ministry of Health, I have ordered a purchase of 200,000 more. This shall increase N95 masks in stock to 50,000. All 5,000 sets of PPG/E will be in stock of the Ministry of Health and they can use them as required […]

As for alcohol, previously we had ordered to distill […] we have noted current usage of about 3,000 to 5,000 liter per day. I have ordered to have in the Royal Government’s strategic storage of at least 1 million liters of alcohol. For any usage that takes out from stock, we must refill it […]

Let me affirm that orders are out for the 10 million masks, 5,000 sets of PPG/E and N95 masks. They all are in warehouses of the Ministry of Health. When they needed them, they just let me know so that I would oversee refill order. They are medical equipment and we must store them according to medical norm. We would leave storing of alcohol to the factories for concern of management. If factory could not distill enough for our demand, we could contact the Korean ethanol factory in the country to help produce it.

On another front, food stock, I have reports from (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance) HE Aun Pornmoniroth and (Minister of Trade) HE Pan Sorasak already, I supported their initiatives about food stock besides rice and paddy. We are to consider higher producing capacity of our country of instant noodle. The Royal Government could guarantee buying a certain amount of them and the rest they could sell them in the market. This should also prevent the price from going up. We have four major noodle factories. We must figure out how much they are to produce for the state as obligation […] this should also have Minister of Agriculture, HE Veng Sokhon, to jump in […] we should also ban exporting fish abroad. We have not done that yet as we had only banned exporting rice/paddy. We should keep fish for local consumption.

I wish to assert that the more than 11 million USD contributed by generous people, including some civil servants who cut a part of their salaries for the cause, I am using those money to help our people by purchasing masks, N95 masks, alcohol, and other necessary materials as required […]

I am calling on (Minister of Health), HE Mam Bunheng and (Deputy Prime Minister) Aun Pornmoniroth to think about increasing daily allowance for the frontline medical staff. It has been months that they have not been seeing their families. It is a huge sacrifice. To help them frame their mind on the job, and not to worry too much about their families, please increase their daily allowance. We must help them concentrate […]

We have prepared any eventual influx of our people from Thailand. Over 50,000 or nearly 60,000 have so far returned. There will be more […] should we go to the fourth option in the four scenarios that I listed earlier, we must bring our monitoring mechanisms to the border and inspect their health. We must think and act on what equipment needed for this task. The Ministry of Health must take up the jobs working with border working teams. We must provide them with sleeping materials such as blankets, pillow, mattress, etc. wherever they are to be kept in isolation – whether it be in hotels, schools, or other facilities […]

Once they leave the isolation, they can bring those materials along. As for transportation, we can use military trucks of division 90 and 99 […] to help take them to their home villages. Our local officials must continue to monitor them […] We have done quite good job with the first influx of more than 50,000 as there has not been any problem with public health so far. I am grateful to our subnational and national officials for their efforts in keeping our people informed and instructing our people what needed to fulfil to keep situation under control […]

Besides food and everything that I have mentioned earlier, we must also discuss about how to cope with possible need for drinking water. We may ask factories that produce drinking water to supply a certain amount of it for the Royal Government. We have many of them, even Evian. They should be able to help us when something happened in certain location, and there was going to be need for drinking water. We must be able to answer to that need. Our medical staff and patients must use and consume clean water. People too must be our target of providing clean drinking water […]

Today outcome has been good. There is no new infected case. We have 15 more recovered from Covid-19. Some who wrote about Cambodia’s shortcoming have now seen that in their own countries hundreds, or even thousand, died per day, sometimes […] I may have my Facebook page posting a Cambodian fellow in foreign country complaining about healthcare system there […] the question does not rest on who has the mightiest services but who is truly capable in leadership.

They may have modern and up-to-date equipment, but they would not be able to do any better if they do not have advanced human resource. We are not modern, but we stick to our realistic measures. We are able to save our people and answer to their concerns. Some said Hun Sen seemed to have paid not enough attention to the issue. They should monitor Hun Sen’s arts of managing and resolving the problem. My way was to first addressing people’s fear. Then, I am taking measures – one after the other to allay fear among them. When the Covid-19 is over, they would see who had strong leadership and who did not […] that would be a major judgment. Foreign journalists, who downgraded developing countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, etc. in their writings, would lose their face because in their own countries, many died and they are heading to higher risks. In numerous cases, medical staff did not even have N95 masks to put on. They have been talking about “modern” governance.

We are in no position to advise them. However, we remind ourselves that we this time must pool our force to work for the interest of our people. We must leave no one of our people to die without our knowledge of him/her and making efforts to help him/her. This is bigger than Covid-19. We must make sure our people have enough food. If they do not, we must bring them in a timely manner. We must make sure our people have food no matter how things change abroad or inside the country. We must manage what we have in our country and administer use of our own resource to serve our people. Thank you for listening and I hope you all will best implement these instructions./.