Selected Comments Samdech Techo Hun Sen, the Inspection Visit to the Flood-Affected Parts and Meetings with People of Phnom Penh’s Dangkao District, Prek Chrey [Unofficial Translation]

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CNV:

Sharing Hardships with Tens of Thousands Afflicted by Rainwater Flooding

[…] I just came from meeting with people in the Satellite City Kuor Srov II. I came to the village of Spean Thmor – another safe ground for people coming from flood-afflicted areas. We have some electricity here supplied by generator. We had to cut off electric supply to this area for the sake of safety […] I am sure, though for a short time, to share with you hardships inflicted by rainwater flooding on our people here as tens of thousands of us in the whole country. As I left the house on my way, there was light rain and it started to downpour when I arrived at the first settlement camp. This what we called natural disaster. The flood forced us to evacuate people. This has been my to priority order as head of the Royal Government. As we speak, the Peace Loving Youth are somewhere in the flood-afflicted area rescuing and moving people out of danger […] the evacuation has not yet finished for Phnom Penh and Kandal province because water are still coming in hard from upper parts.

Identifying High Grounds for People’s Lives from Flash Rainwater Flooding

Though we have a report that flood in Kompong Speu has receded, and they may return to normal if there were not additional rain, it is not yet the case for us in lower parts of Phnom Penh and Kandal province. Water recession would be a few days later. Out of more than ten provinces afflicted by rainwater flooding, Phnom Penh, Kandal and Banteay Meanjei are still in fighting. Provinces of Battambang, Pursat, Pailin, Kompong Thom, Stoeung Treng and Preah Sihanouk reportedly are coming to détente now. However, lower pressure and storm are still threatening us in the next few days and I doubt if it is not causing trouble to other parts of the country. As I said earlier, every provinces must exercise high precaution and be prepared by identifying high grounds to save people whenever flash rainwater flooding happens. The highest priority of our operation is to save people lives from drowning and/or being flooded without us knowing and reaching out to them. We recorded 13 deaths in Cambodia. We have no death recorded for Phnom Penh and Kandal, though.

Right to Life –Top Priority

Tonight and the nights to come, I am urging our people to take care of small children. Do not let them loose. Please do not return to flooded areas. We have evacuated you to safety. Please do not get back to danger before the authorities judged it was safe to do so. As I have posted on my Facebook account – “a friend in need is a friend in deed,” this is the best time for our people to keep up solidarity in the whole country. Unlike those who preached negatively abroad, our monks, people, authorities and armed forces are working together to deal with the situation. This is a very good point of the Hun Sen’s government. No matter what you may say from where you are in the US, France, Canada or anywhere else, in Cambodia, we are working together irrespective of political tendency and/or parties. All we care here is to keep and protect people’s life.

It is therefore my determination that the authority and the armed forces pay high attention to moving people to safe ground, and take good care of them as far as food, hygiene/sanitation, and medical assistance is concerned. We just had information that we have 5,000 kits of mosquito nets, blankets, scarfs, mattresses and pillows packed for Covid-19 at the Ministry of Health. We will make use of those kits for now. Our people came out of their flooded houses empty handed. At this stage, we must make sure they are safe and keep themselves warm. It is utmost important to keep lives. Without life, we cannot talk about anything at all. No one can talk about media and/or democracy and human rights. From beginning to now, Hun Sen’s policy has been to ensure people’s right to life […] everyone must survive. As we are now at safe ground, and so are people in other affected areas. Some in flood receded provinces have now returned homes such as in Battambang, Pursat, etc.

Rainwater Surpassed Absorbing Capability of Waterways/Systems

We are in the evacuation mode here because water is spreading everywhere. Compared to the 2000 flooding, when rainwater from southwestern parts of the country crisscrossed to the northern side of Prek Thnaot, flooded quite a number of factories, this time around we have the canal – Prek Ta Hao that I recalled earlier. In 2000, I ordered cutting open the national road 2 at Prek Ro Taing and widening it. The canal now known as “Prek Ta Hor,” because HE Lim Kean Hor implemented my order, is channeling this massive amount of rainwater to the Choeung Lok Lake […] the point here is in two hours, there were 196 to 200 millimeters of rainwater. We lost the battle here. Some blamed filling up lakes. The fact is this flooding happened because the waterways/ground systems capability cannot withstand such massive amount of water […]

Obstacle Creates Unity – Our National Pride

The highest priority now is safeguarding life. While people are in safe ground, we must provide them with food and healthcare. We must make sure people can have boiled/clean water to drink and food to eat. Every households must have drinking water at their disposals […] Buddhist monks have also been active helping people in their evacuation and the monasteries have turned to be safe grounds. The Buddhist temples and dining halls that are higher than water level have become safe grounds for the monks themselves and for followers. Along the Mekong flooding experience, the Buddhist temples have become safe grounds for people and their animals […] sometimes women even delivered in areas where there are Buddhist statues. That was how life have to be in time of disasters […]

I am so glad though to see that our people have expressed solidarity with each other, while the armed forces, authorities at every levels, and the youth forces, are taking actions simultaneously to help the affected people. We also noticed art of sharing or culture of sharing resource among our people. Just now, I thanked people for the contribution of more than six million USD for use in the flood-related situation. At the local level, working groups and generous people have been offering relief assistance to the affected people. That is the Cambodian pride. Once obstacle strikes, the spirit of unity arises. That would exclude those who knowing nothing of the country’s situation, are making noises from abroad. Everyone here are not all voting for the Cambodian People’s Party. We are not talking political parties here. Everyone here are Cambodians, are in need of peaceful life and are searching for safety […]

Low Seasonal Flood Mekong Help Absorb Rainwater

We must make every efforts to overcome this hardship. We have on the one hand a fight with Covid-19 pandemic and on another with this sudden rainwater flooding. The seasonal Mekong water level has been lower than expected – only seven meters while we have expected a level of nine to 9.5 meters. That is very low level. However, this has allowed the Mekong River, the Tonle Sap River, and the Bassac River to absorb water fast. For the parts of Battambang, Pursat and Banteay Meanjei, rainwater can find fast ways into the Tonle Sap Lake as the rainwater here is flowing fast into the Bassac River system. Water in Preah Vihear and Kompong Thom also settled quickly into the Tonle Sap reservoir […]

We Fight to Win over Covid-19, Rainwater Flooding, and to Restore the Country

Natural calamity or disaster has always been menacing […] (however) our people are not isolated. We – the Buddhist monks, people, civil servants, the armed forces – united to become a strong force and take actions altogether with those affected by the flooding disaster. This is a good point of our country. In the other meeting, I talked about three things that we must make efforts to work together – firstly, continue our fight and win over Covid-19; secondly, win over the flash-rain flooding disaster; and thirdly, restore the country in the post-flooding and Covid-19 times […] Covid-19 would not kill us if we exercise precautions. Flood would not kill us if we exercise high precaution. We united and solve the problem facing us together. We will make efforts together to restore our living conditions. I already issued order for the armed forces and authorities of every levels to help look into problems of our people regarding their livelihood after flood recedes. That may include repairing homes and/or transporting goods and people back to their residences. The armed forces must serve as the backbone intervention force of the Royal Government […]

“We Cambodians Can Do It”

Some may have pondered as to why Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen came at night rather than during daytime. It was just because I wished to know how people are settling down in this first difficult night […] days now, after the Cabinet meeting last week I have been in touch with the afflicted provinces […] today, I out here with you in one direction under my command. It is now easy to do so with a small phone […]. Once again, I thank the working groups of the Royal Government and the Cambodian People’s Party for their prompt actions to help deal with the situation. I thank every generous fellows for providing where they could food and water to our people. How long has our roads been damaged, HE Sun Chanthol (Minister of Transports and Public Works)? [Answering – both national and provincial roads altogether 245 km]. I hope our people understand the need to close down traffic on some roads […] I am so proud that whenever hardships arise, we always are united to overcome them. I believe that we Cambodians can do it on all problems […]./.