Selected Comments Samdech Techo Hun Sen,​ at the Visit to Flash-Flood Victims in the Province of Banteay Meanjei (Location 1) [Unofficial Translation]

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Banteay Meanjei – Hardest Hit by Flash Flood

Thank you so much for coming to join us at this very difficult time. Please allow me to bring you greetings and messages of from HM the King Preah Baat Norodom Sihamoni and Samdech Mae (the Queen Mother) at this flash flood disaster time. I am taking this time to express my condolences over the losses of 18 lives in Banteay Meanjei in particular and/or 34 lives in the whole flash-flood incident. It is quite compassionate that a man lost his life while trying to save his son […] it is a disaster that we have suffered in this very difficult time as I said on 14 October while visiting the people at the safe grounds in Phnom Penh’s Dangkao district/Khan. I did inform our people then that Thailand was to let go of water, and as they did we would be having a worse hit of flood. It happened now and Banteay Meanjei became the worst hit province. Phnom Penh is  badly hit by rainwater flooding too.

My Presence Expedited Humanitarian Relief Efforts

We have taken swift actions to help our people as reported by the governor Oum Reatrei where on the one hand we had to move our people to safe grounds and on the other to commence humanitarian relief efforts. Along with prompt humanitarian reliefs of HM the King and generous beings, I sent a sum of 200,000 USD to the provincial efforts in dealing with the disaster. However, as the flood dislocated some 20,000 households, we must do more. I think that my presence would be able to expedite humanitarian relief efforts at this very difficult time […]

We are offering relief assistance to 10,000 households in two locations today, and another 10,000 in two locations tomorrow. On 23 October, I have to return to Phnom Penh for the Cabinet meeting to pass the law on national financial management for 2021 and some other projects relating to our country’s development. After our relief packages delivering tomorrow at Poi Pet, I will take a helicopter along with other Deputy Prime Ministers to return to Phnom Penh for the meeting. Even though my presence was a bit late because it took times to gather information and to prepare everything necessary, it is not yet too late. Evacuating people to safe grounds was my instruction to concerned authorities as a priority.

Climate Change – Unprecedented Rainwater Flooding

It has been an unprecedented flood situation. Some studies have suggested that a flash flood of this dimension once happened 70 years ago in this area. In the last 40 years after the liberation of our country in 1979, this is my first time to have encountered this heavy flooding. In reality, flooding is not new for Banteay Meanjei. Countries sharing water systems with us – such as Thailand, Vietnam and Laos are also suffering from disaster. Vietnam has had the worst too as more than 100 lives lost, including those of their military search and rescue teams. In 2000, the Mekong seasonal flooding had been enormous and we called it the millennium flooding. As for this time, it is the unprecedentedly huge flash flood or rainwater flooding and it is strange that this flood happened at the very later part of the rainy season. Normally, after we celebrated the Pchum Ben day or the end of rainy season, the Mekong system would recede. This year, the system has surged and more rains had come. That is the climate change consequence that no one could ever predict the weather pattern anymore […]

The Blamed Military Trucks Saved People’s Lives

Covid-19 has caused us damages for the past ten months already and now the flash flood because of rainwater did us more. We have not yet come up with estimate of damages since everyone knows that our prioritized effort is to bring our people in flood-hit areas to safe grounds. We have intervention forces from the division 911, and even from division 1 in Phnom Penh, to help with the search and rescue operation along with the military region five and the military transport unit […] where the 290 military trucks that some people blamed us for purchasing them (at the time of Covid-19) have been serving this rescue operation. […] This has been a real action to counter such accusation that we had bought those military vehicles for use in suppressing people […]

In Hardships Appears Solidarity

We are now at the primary stage of what needed to do. We have more tasks to carry forwards. People moved to safe grounds and some had not been able to return yet. Once they could do that the armed forces and concerned authorities must provide them with transportation assistance and look into ways to help them restore their homes, health centers, schools, infrastructural rehabilitation such as roads and seeds provision, for instance. […] However, while rainwater flood hit provinces of Banteay Meanjei, Battambang, Pailin, Pursat, Phnom Penh, Kompong Thom, Kompong Speu, Stoeun Treng […] many generous people came in to offer their helps. Today we have Oknha Tri Pheap, Leng Nawatra and even our singers […]

This was a good point of the Cambodians. Whenever hardship strikes, spirit of solidarity appears. Generous beings and political parties are giving whatever they have – in big or small amount, to help with humanitarian relief effort. As for my relief packages, I have instructed the provincial authority that people suffered the flood must receive my relief assistance, no matter how many times and from who they have received already […]

Infrastructural Adjustments for Waterways

Our works have been heavy but I am sure we can do it. In the spirit of responsibility of the Royal Government and relevant authorities at every levels, national and sub-national, to resolve the problems implicated by flooding, I agree with the measures taken and proposed actions, including ones about widening waterways. The Ministry of Water Resource (and Meteorology) and the Ministry of Public Works must get on to this task. In some places, bridges could have been small. We may need to cut more roads out to increase the bridge span to allow more volume of water to flow fast. That was not new. We did that at the national road 1 in 2000 […] and Japan later build us two bridges. We did that on the national road 2 at Prek Rotaing (Rotaing stream) […]

Every time we had flood experience, we learnt to address it. Yesterday, Minister of Water Resources outlaid a plan to me how and where to resolve water coming from Thailand. We have identified three water prongs coming from Thai side – the stream O Lahong, O Bei Juan, and O Kambot. We will get to action after we deal with this emergency operation. That is what natural disaster means. Once the amount of rainwater reaches 100 or even 200 mm an hour, surpassing absorption and reservation capacity, nothing can stop its powerful burst – not a steam or even a river […]

Once we have too much water, we have difficulty. Once we have no water, we also have difficulty. In 2016, I came to Banteay Meanjei to inaugurate the High School of Thmor Puok. It was at a time when we had to bring water by truck to Banteay Meanjei. We let water from the reservoir of Komping Puoy in Battambang through the stream/river of Mongkul Borei and when there were too much water in Battambang, we relieved it to Mongkul Borei. In 2016, water table underground had dropped lower in nearly half of the country. We had to dig deeper to get to water source […]

Conflicts Fail Covid-19 Efforts

In circumstance like this, no one should blame or take the blame and that would include efforts to deal with Covid-19 pandemic too. The UN Secretary General made a point about failure to prevent Covid-19 pandemic was because of conflicts. I agree to that. Some countries blamed China and it was not fair. They said China was the source of the pandemic but China has had so far over 80,000 people infected, while those who blamed China has had more […] blaming each other would not solve problems that ones were facing. Cooperation was the way to solve them. Countries must collaborate. […] That culture of blaming each other in the world brings about failure to managing Covid-19, I do agree with the UN Secretary General. Should we have cooperated, we could have done better […]

Holding on to Chairman of the National Committee for Disaster Management

I instructed HE Kun Kim, the first Vice Chairman of the National Committee for Disaster Management, to stay here in Banteay Meanjei to follow up the progress of our rescue and relief efforts. He does not have to go back to Phnom Penh for the Cabinet meeting. […] We have received so far generous contributions of nearly eight million USD. The Royal Government has released its food stocks – initially aimed for Covid-19 situation, […] and we are open to more contributions and assistance from everyone and everywhere. We can be swift in action so far thanks to the fact that the Prime Minister chairs the National Committee for Disaster Management. I resigned from Chairmanship positions of many committees but I hold on to the National Committee for Disaster Management [NCDM]. I must stay and manage it and I needed a Vice Chairman in execution position.

Search and Rescue, and Property Protection Continue

I am grateful that people are collaborating and placing trust in the resolving efforts of the Royal Government, and rescue efforts of intervention forces. I am so proud that people accept to leave their homes and come with our rescue teams to safe grounds. If they do not have trust, they would not come with us. Nhien Sambean, please step out to let people see you, has been a symbol of emotional support of no less than 80% of the Cambodian population (to the rescue effort). He wrote and placed in his rice package for our soldiers thanking their efforts to help people in the village of Kathin. It was quite inspirational to the works we are doing. It is worthless to listen to what those in the opposition is talking about us. They would rather wish for more people to die so they could take advantage about us having no capability to manage the situation. […] I am calling our forces to closely check and find people who might have left stranded, that is one task. Secondly, our patrol forces must protect peoples’ property at their (flooded) homes from thefts while people are still in safe ground. Our primary task now is to find them all and help them to safe grounds. Once the flood recedes, we take them homes.

Post-Flood Evaluation and Measures

We will soon conduct evaluation on damages caused and what we can and needed to address. For cultivation, what rice seed and how much we would need, and other crops and vegetables. As we are implementing cash measures for poor households (Poor-1 and Poor-2), we will be estimating how long are we going to provide cash assistance according to the amount we have in contribution from generous fellows. I am taking this opportune moment to call on banks and micro-finance institutions – whom I have appealed before to exercise their favorable policies helping workers whose income affected by closing factories, etc. for Covid-19 pandemic – to extend such favors to people affected by flood too.

I am calling on them to offer repayment rescheduling […] for people truly affected by flood everywhere. I am asking banks and micro-finance institutions to confiscate no homes or property of the people in financial difficulty in the times of Covid-19 pandemic and this flooding situation. However, I must reaffirm that for this current to withdraw money from the bank, firstly, and secondly, to make no payment to banks/micro-finance institutions, I would not reject their property confiscated by banks/micro-finance. If people are innocent and cheated by some elements to launch sabotage, without their consents, we also have to forgive them […]

I am sure banks/micro-finance are after profits but profits from people in hardships would not be a pleasant one and/or in win-win situation. I hope banks/micro-finance institutions are paying their attentions to this and the National Bank of Cambodia and the Ministry of Economy and Finance will continue with the instruction for such cooperation from them. After measures taken to relieve difficulties in financial sector in time of Covid-19 epidemic, we are calling for more for the people suffering from flood. According to the report by HE Kun Kim, 104,348 households or 417,392 people are our targets. The number is not that big and not every one of them owes banks and/or micro-finance institutions.

Planned Demonstration In Front of Chinese Embassy Warned

As we are getting to 23 October (the Paris Peace Agreement), there have been some who urged people for a demonstration. Allow me to warn those who would like to organize demonstration in front of the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh. As everyone is busy with flood situation, I am warning those people not to cause other troubles […] and as they would choose most demonstrators from provinces, I must warn those who have been preparing to come to Phnom Penh (for that purpose). We know who they are. I am sending them a message – not to come with a petition on 23 October. The persons here who signed the Paris Peace Agreement are myself, and Tia Banh. Who are you to the Paris Peace Agreement? […] as they have a meeting I already have information about what they are planning to do and instructing people from abroad. The country is facing with flood and Covid-19 pandemic difficulties you may not want to cause more troubles. (Some had) raised three fingers to Thais (demonstrators) but rebuked by Thais for interfering their internal affairs […]

Three Hardships to Overcome, Abandon No People

I have confidence that we will win over these hardships. Firstly, we believe that we can prevent the Covid-19 pandemic from a community spreading, […] Secondly, we will overcome difficulties caused by flooding in Beanteay Meanjei in particular and in the country as a whole. Thirdly, we will succeed in restoring economy in the post-flood and post-Covid-19 pandemic […]. I may have to ask for your understanding and sharing with you that Deputy Prime Minister HE Ke Kim Yan, who leads the Royal Government working group in Banteay Manjei, is pursuing a medical attention in a hospital abroad. He asked if he should return to help deal with the situation but I instructed him to stay there. His health is also important […]

I thank the Cambodian people for placing their trust in the Cambodian People’s Party and, more directly, in me, Hun Sen. I have nothing to return to your trust but to safeguard peace for peaceful livelihood of our people, to keep you away from wars and it has always been Hun Sen’s way never to abandon the people. People do not come to Hun Sen (in difficult time) but Hun Sen reaches out to them. I wish you and people in the whole country safe from the Covid-19 plague and flash flood […]./.