Special Message of Samdech Techo Hun Sen to the Cambodian Compatriots on Covid-19 Latest Situation, Consideration of Vaccines, and Further Measures [Unofficial Translation]

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A. Covid-19 Situation; November-28 Community Outbreak; Vaccine Strategy

I would like to address the monks and compatriots on a number of issues after November 30, 2020, when I announced in Siem Reap regarding the status of the “November-28 Community (Infection) Events.” Days ago, I have been silent, and people could have seen me leading meetings via video in the frameworks of ACMECS and the CLMV cooperation framework and the Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam Development Triangle from home. In addition, there was also a speech to the United Nations and participation in the ASEAN-China Expo event via video plus.

Be Afraid of, but Not Panic to Covid-19

I have also posted some messages related to COVID-19, including some voicemails sent to our compatriots as well as the authorities. Let me make a few reminders regarding what I said in Siem Reap on November 30, 2020, which was then the full moon day of March, until today – 15 December 15, 2020. At that time, I said within in the next 15 days would be decisive whether​ we could control the pandemic community outbreak or not, and it would depend entirely on our efforts, both the state and the people.

At that time, I also affirmed that the way to overcome COVID-19 is to pretend to be a loser, to be afraid but not to be in panic. In addition, there are indications related to the need to act fast and at a large scale. At that time, we just examined 3,332 samples from seven provinces and we found 15 (Covid-19 positive) cases. There are also instructions on how to quarantine, to reorganize the quarantine centers, which can afford to take samples for testing in Phnom Penh, and (those needed a quarantine place) can find a state-funded hotel.

(November 30) was the day we pronounced closing of the 2019-2020 school year, and the day of the junior secondary school exams in their respective schools. We also call on people to voluntarily take samples for test, wear a facemask and wash hands, to stay home when it was not necessary to go anywhere. We also called on people who have been in quarantines at home to follow the rule properly for 14 days and asked (relevant authorities) to monitor the situation, and help provide food for those in poor families. Later in the day, I ordered sending money to the provinces to support the poor families 20,000 Riels (per day), should there be anyone in the family in quarantines.

WHO – COVID-19 Infections in Cambodia Sporadic Occurrence, Not Many Clusters, No Large Communities Outbreaks

In the course of the last 15 days, how did we evaluate the situation? Today, I need to address not only the issues related to COVID-19 and the November 28 community outbreak event, but also the broader topics related to COVID-19 problems solving and economic recovery efforts. We have just gone through the first case of the community pandemic outbreak subject. In terms of transmission in community, according to the scenarios set out in the master plan for action against Cambodia’s COVID-19 disease, the outbreak has been in form of clusters and individual locations, but not too large a scale.

According to a report by the World Health Organization, the Cambodian (November-28 event) is among the most common types of infections, with not too many clusters and not yet included in the mode of transmission of large communities. The World Health Organization (WHO) listed 19 countries so far reported no cases of infection, 53 countries with cases of infection in clusters, and 33 countries, Cambodia included, with sporadic and localized transmission, and 127 countries have had large-scale cases, while two countries await evaluations.

362 Positive COVID-19 Cases Found, 41 of Which Were Community-Based

So far, 362 cases of COVID-19 have appeared in our country. Of these, 41 cases found to be in the community, and all of the rest were imported. Yesterday there were only 40 cases (of community infection), but unfortunately one baby was with the mother. The Ministry of Health notified the mother has recovered, but her seven-month-old baby has had the infection unfortunately. So the mother could not get out of the hospital. To date, according to the figures provided by the Ministry of Health, 312 people have been cured and 51 are being treated at three hospitals – 38 patients at Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, 6 patients at Chak Angre Krom Health Center, and the National Center for Tuberculosis and Henson’s disease has seven of them. In terms of samples being tested from January until now, there are nearly 250,000 samples, one of the highest rates among countries tested for COVID-19.

Let me ask for forgiveness from all the monks and nuns, both at home and abroad, as I have to talk about public health issues, including illnesses, especially related to COVID-19 pandemic. Sometimes, some might say that I happened to know everything. As a political leader, I cannot really know the technicality (in details) […] I needed to know a lot in order to point out direction for the technicians to apply. We lead politics in all areas, but we do not lead technology in all areas. Technically, the ministry is the implementer, but as the leader, I cannot stay away from the policy framework and pointing leadership direction in practicality. The technical implementation rests with the competent ministry.

I do not really teach people about jackfruit and rice (as some did). Having said that, hopefully no one would mark that I refer to them. From now, I will not correspond with anyone. In Siem Reap, I said that now is not the time to blame each other, but to unite to prevent COVID-19. I hope what I have said today does not make anyone claim I have responded to them.

November-28 Community (Outbreak) Event: Under Control, but Not Over

(I could) have (delivered this message) since yesterday, but we had to wait for the sample tests yesterday. There are a few hundred more samples to be testing today. According to the report of HE Mam Bunheng, Minister of Health, we still have some samples tested today by the Institut Pasteur. Now, in relation to the November-28 Community Event, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Ministry of Health for its frontline doctors, sub-national authorities, and relevant institutions, especially the people who participated in this campaign to deal with the November-28 community event. It was a real danger for our nation and our people. I am very proud of the health officials, civil servants of all ranks, the armed forces of all kinds who have worked hard to prevent this (community outbreak). As I have said, whether we can prevent it or not, it is within 15 days.

Now, in 15 days, we have taken control of the situation, but we have not finished the November-28 community event yet. This situation is not the same as the “November-3 event,” for a number of reasons that I will share with you later. I have been involved in military battles from the time I was a soldier to the time when I had 30 soldiers under my command, and 100, and then hundreds, to thousands until I control the whole country. I involved in almost every situation, such as 105 battles, five time wounded, countless bilateral and multilateral political negotiations to find a political solution, or negotiations within the framework of the United Nations, ASEAN, East Asia and other frameworks. Negotiations with the heads of state and government of countless countries to address the issue of leadership to save the people from floods, droughts, fires or building collapses, but the situation of commanding the battlefield against COVID-19 makes me think it is neither simple nor usual. I always have my phone with me.

Just before midnight, before the Institut Pasteur, as well as the National Center for Public Health, turned off the machines (of sample checking), I always had my phone in almost shaking hands waiting for the results as the two institutes would report their COVID-19 finding results. Two nights ago, there was no (positive case of COVID-19), but, as yesterday the situation was almost over, suddenly we received reports that there were two cases – one imported, and another community infection on a baby under one-year-old. At dawn, even though I was very sleepy, I had to get up and reply to the message of HE Mam Bunheng. Before broadcast, the Minister asked for the opinion of the Prime Minister. It has only been two nights now that I have authorized the Minister to publish first and then send me a report […]

Together Fight COVID-19; Do Not Blame It on Individuals

Regarding Mr. Chhem Savuth … he was (tested) twice negative, but then the Ministry of Health asked for advice since from the time it was found to be positive (of Covid-19) to the time when it was found to be negative twice is not yet 15 days. I advise that he should be in the 14 days’ quarantine or more. Mr. Chhem Savuth has been released from the hospital today. In the case of Mr. Chhem Savuth, I would take this opportunity to seek our people’s understanding and those who have suggested that Mr. Chhem Savuth should retire because he has caused fear throughout the country. I also sent a message to my adviser who provided this information stating that Mr. Chhem Savuth and his wife were the victims. We should fight against COVID-19, not against Mr. Chhem Savuth, his wife and the family. We should thank Mr. Chhem Savuth and his wife for running to the doctor when they were unwell. We have received frank and true information from the wives of Mr. Chhem Savuth and Mr. Chhem Savuth, so we should thank him. He was not the one causing trouble. COVID-19 was. If COVID-19 attacks Mr. Chhem Savuth and we attack (him) making Mr. Chhem Savuth lose his job, then we are doing an immoral act. I ask for the understanding of our people involved in this matter.

November-28 Community Outbreak: 41 Infected, 18,828 Direct/Indirect Contacts

Now we talk about this event (of November 28), how many people are infected? The number of infected people has risen to 41, with three have already been cured, and more are possibly in recovery. There are up to 18,828 people directly and indirectly involved in 25 provincial capitals: 14,681 in Phnom Penh, 1,213 in Kandal, 1,010 in Kratie, 512 in Siem Reap, 428 in Banteay Meanchey, 332 in Battambang, 300 in Prey Veng, 248 people in Kampong Thom, 167 in Kampong Cham, 131 in Mondulkiri, and 123 in Takeo. There are 118 in Stoung Treng, 112 in Tbong Khmum, 72 in Preah Sihanouk, 52 in Pursat, 49 in Kampong Chhnang, 44 in Uddar Meanchey, 38 in Kampot, 33 in Ratanakkiri, 24 in Koh Kong, 13 in Kep, 9 in Kampong Speu, 8 in Pailin, 7 in Preah Vihear, and 6 in Svay Rieng. This is a provisional figure. If the remaining samples are found to be positive for someone else, that number could change […]

Continue to Search for Positive COVID-19, Proper 14-Days Quarantines Helps

Therefore, I would take this opportunity to make it clear that the November 28 community event is under control but has not yet been over for five reasons. One of the reasons was we still do not know exactly where the COVID-19 patients could have gone that we did not know or find out. It would be s/he either refused to tell or forgot where s/he had been 14 days before the day s/he found infected. This is a very important point. Previously, the search had been mostly in around Phnom Penh and only two shops found to have many infections and among the family of Mr. Chhem Savuth and those related to Mr. Chhem Savuth. We must not forget, however, that it may still be happening somewhere that we have not reached yet.

I am calling on the Ministry of Health to continue the search for the next 14 days backwards. I would like to inform all the monks, nuns and compatriots that when we find someone with COVID-19, we then ask them within 14 days ago, with whom they were related? Where did they go? Recently, a foreign friend who came to help us asked us to search just two days before s/he showed symptoms. This searching team comprises of the army, the police, the health and other departments, including the information technology, because we have to check her/his phone contacts. They did not listen to her/his voices, but the phone has their data needed to identify how many in other places does this phone number relate to? And did s/he go there? This is what we must look for.

In a message group, when the intelligence department or the person who did the work asked the question, “a foreign friend asked us to end the search 14 days before the symptoms appear. His Excellency Mam Bunheng did not answer yet, but one of our military officers answered because those friends kept changing such questions, their countries have had many deaths. This is a true story. Sometimes during the 14-day of quarantine, they were found to be negative but on day 13, the last day in quarantine, s/he found to have infected. In that case, s/he had to stay in quarantine for another 14 days. Once found to be Covid-19 positive, s/he must undergo treatment, and those who are with her/him must continue for another 14 days too.

We do this carefully so that our country has a low rate of infection and no deaths. Searching just two days before symptoms appear would not be sure. According to Cambodia’s experience, 14 days of proper quarantine is one of the reasons why Cambodia can prevent infection of spreading. It would be a little difficult, but we can save our people from death. Some countries have recorded many deaths. It is so unfortunate. We share grieves with those countries that have so many deaths – some with tens of thousands infected per day, and hundreds or even thousands died a day.

Reason 1 – November-28 Event Not Over, Concerned That Positive People Forget People Who They Contacted and Where They Were

I urge the Ministry of Health (attention) … (that) friends just give us advice. The decision is up to us. I am not a technician. The Ministry of Health is a technical institution. My suggestion is to continue the search for 14 days before the symptoms appear. Once a positive case discovered, immediately find out who is involved in the last 14 days. Where did the person go in 14 days? As soon as we know, we make an urgent operation on those places. At this point, we are willing to endure a little hardship, use a little more force at a fast pace and not be negligent. The success of almost a year ago is here. We explored and disconnected clusters without negligence. We still see it is necessary to go with the 14 days’ search from the day symptoms appeared, as s/he may not tell us all or s/he forgot, because who could have a noted in her/his every day activities diaries. It is rare […]

Reason 2 – People Directly or Indirectly Involved Do Not Come to Tests …

The second reason is that there are still people who have been directly or indirectly affected, who do not dare to show up and do not dare to come for testing for fear of being detained for 14 days, which is a risk of transmission in the community. If they do not do quarantines at home for a proper 14 days and those who do their quarantines at home, do they really follow the instructions? Some reported that s/he was afraid of going to quarantines. Some say that they saw people in quarantines at home walking out to buy this/that and so on. At this point, there is some criticism for us, and this is not necessary to blame anyone, but me, regarding the identification of people, both names and photos, it was very dark at that time.

In order to find out the person with whom s/he was involved so that those involved could see the doctors for samples I decided to publish a short photo and name. We have now removed all photos and names to avoid discrimination and for the sake of individual rights. Sometimes we have to take the decision to accept criticism, but we can save the lives of our people, we can avoid dangerous situations away from our people. I hope that our brothers and sisters will understand and the topic related to the issue of appearance or not, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank those who dare to appear. Some of those positive with Covid-19 went to Pedro and Zando shops. When s/he saw pictures of the stores, s/he volunteered their samples. Some direct/indirect contacts volunteered to quarantine themselves.

I thank you for your courage to avoid danger and to avoid infecting others. At the same time, we can understand that some people do not dare to show up because they need to stay at home for 14 days, even though the Royal Government has announced a subsidy of 20,000 Riels per day for the poor households.

The day before, less than 1 km from here, at Prek Russey in Kandal province, (a person) ran and hid in a balcony. We do not take people to Pasteur. We only take samples. When the sample came out positive, we contacted him. He realized that he was going to go quarantine. He did not go. He went into hiding in the balcony. If this is the case, it is dangerous for our nation and our people. There is news about some in quarantine went out to buy this/that, including going for a noodle. Even His Excellency Khieu Kanharith, the Minister of Information, posted a message that appeared to be denied by the Ministry of Health, claiming that someone in quarantine at the Sokha Hotel in Phnom Penh had come out. This is the second reason why this event could not end.

Reason 3 – Affected People Have Not Reached Dates of Second and Third Tests

The third reason is that some of the affected people have not yet reached the dates of the second or third tests because they have just learned about their Covid-19 infections and have only taken testes once or twice. There is now a calendar for testing because testers are not in one day altogether. For the November-3 event, we had a calendar for each province involved. Now we have not tested some for the second or third time yet. There are going to be one or two more testing to do. In the course of the next one or two more tests, if anyone found positive, we start searching whom they are in contact with and will continue to search for the next 14 days.

Reasons 4 and 5 – Subsequent Quarantined Persons Not Reaching 14 Days and Quarantine Places in Provinces

The fourth reason is that those who have to be in subsequent order of quarantines starting from the November 29 to the day that we found the last Covid-19 positive on the November 14, which was yesterday. Some may not know that they have done the required 14 days’ quarantines and tested three times. The last positive Covid-19 found on the November 14, was not the 10th. We did not have an infection on the 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th, but yesterday had it on a baby.

The fifth reason is in some provinces where the patient arrived/went before s/he knew s/he had Covid-19, have we found all of them? Sometimes we do not find them if there was hesitation to reveal or even a cover-up. These are the five points that we cannot announce the November-28 community outbreak over yet.

No Crowded Gathering as to Ensure the November-28 Event Is Truly Over

In the meantime, on behalf of the Royal Government, (I) ask for the understanding of the monks and the people to maintain the status quo for a while to ensure that the Covid-19 that entered the community on 28 November is truly over for the benefit of all. Now we have to choose between infecting ourselves, dying, spreading in the community and celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Eve. We are well aware of the impacts, from which education will bear the most. Apart from that, there are still some impacts on services, but the economic aspects related to agriculture and industry are now doing fine. People are still growing normally. The impact is on the service sector, such as big restaurants, because it requires that the crowd must be less than 20 people. It affects the wedding, the upcoming Christmas celebration, and the New Year.

I woke up last night to see the (governor) of Kep province asking for advice on whether it is possible to organize a fireworks display or not? […] I told him to wait and see my statement today. We need to continue this journey for a while so that Cambodia can escape this deadly disease, from the hidden killers, that we have not been able to eradicate yet. I keep going with my belief that the way to beat Covid-19 is to be afraid of it, but not panic. Where there are many people, we should not dare to join, keep a distance, do not dare to shake hands, fear we pass to them or they pass to us. As I wear gloves in Siem Reap, I am not afraid of the people, but do not trust me too much (that I am not infected).

Ministry of Education Suggests Three Options for High School Exams

The biggest issue here is the education sector, which I would take this opportunity to request the Minister of Education further considerations. The day before […] on December 7, 2020, the Minister of Education proposed three options. The first option – in case of continued spread, and (the Ministry) will not be able to organize the exam process on December 21 and 22, 2020, the Ministry will postpone the exam date to mid-January 2020. For option 2 – in case of waiting until mid-January 2021, and it will still not be possible to organize the exam process, the Ministry will organize the high school diploma exam in their respective high schools. Option 3 – should the case spreads severely, the Ministry will suspend the high school diploma exam for the academic year 2019-2020, and will instead evaluate the results of the semester exams of each candidate to determine whether they pass or fail and also request to keep the funding for operation costs. Money is not a matter here. At that time, I wrote in red letters that firstly, the situation is still unclear, so take the second option. Secondly, in case the second option is not applicable, please go for the third option […]

[…] According to the announcement, the exam will take place on January 11, and the possibility of the exam can be taken in the respective high schools. However, my recommendation is I think the exam on January 11, 2021 is still not possible, because the possibility of announcing the end of this event cannot happen before January 11, 2021. In my opinion, I consider the announcement of the end of this (November-28) event may occur after January 20 … At this point, let the Ministry consider the third possibility of making evaluation instead of taking the exams by taking the semester exam result of each candidate to determine s/he fails or passes.

[…] We have to accept the real facts. We cannot send children to take the exam, while there are no vaccines to protect them and their teachers. While there is no death yet, they accused us of covering up deaths. Should there be deaths, there would be screaming from everyone. I would not decide on that. Let you (in the Ministry) consider. His Excellency Hang Chuon Naron, Minister of Education, came here for the meetings of ACMECS, CLMV and CLV, I told him to think about this scenario to clear exam-takers’ minds. If it is decided to go with this option, let us not wait until 11 January 2021. Should start preparing […] so as not to drag the time of the uncertainty of the students as they have to prepare going to college […]

In Quickly Changing Times, Political Leadership Is Unscriptural

This is not pressure, but such mobile, quickly changing times, political leadership is unscriptural. Some accused Hun Sen of being stupid. I admit I was stupid. I do not know things like you do. You can say anything to me, but do not forget that this idiot has ruled this country for almost 36 years now. There has never been a prime minister in Cambodia who stay in power for decades, let alone five years. That has been a reality […] I am now like being in a quarantine too. I do not go anywhere. I am staying at home. The only difference from the time that I was in quarantine was my children and other people were not allowed to enter the house. I did not attend the ASEAN meeting and DPM and Minister of Economy and Finance, HE Aun Pornmoniroth, participated on my behalf. If I were to attend, those attended with me could not return home and would all be in quarantines.

Cambodian People Party (CPP) Are Rich with Human Resources

After HE Aun Pornmoniroth attended the ASEAN summits on my behalf, some media accolades him as a potential prime ministerial candidate. You are right. In the CPP, you have to understand how they are organized. They made three tiers and even four tiers of generations because of the first generation could go anytime. Among the current Deputy Prime Ministers, how many are younger than I am? Many are. Trained from the time he was my personal secretary to the present Deputy Prime Minister position and on the Prime Minister’s behalf, HE Aun Pornmoniroth attended the ASEAN Summit, what would the message be? Please be clear about the preparation. Do not stick your minds only to transferring power to (Hun) Manet every day. The CPP has abundant human resources and no less PhDs. You are right to have brought this issue up. I am okay with your thought. He is one among other candidates […]

People Protect Themselves Instead of Placing the Country in Emergency

Once again, I raise my hand in prayer to our people to understand the hardships for themselves, for families, for the community, as I begged for the cancellation of the traditional Khmer New Year. Let me show you what I have prepared but I do not use it. This is a draft of the Royal Decree on placing the nation in a state of emergency, drafts of sub-decree on measures to implement national emergency management to combat the spread of Covid-19 disease in the community. Here are the draft letters to the President of the Senate and the President of the National Assembly to seek approvals in accordance with the law. However, I am determined that I will not use it. I am willing to call on the people to participate instead, because if I were to proceed with it, our people will lose a lot. The prime minister of a country uses the words “who is in which province, stay in that province, in which district, stay in that district, in which commune, stay in that commune, in which village, stay in that village, in which house, stay in that home, and if you dare to violate, you will be punished.”

Someone came out to comment. I also posted on Facebook to lessen concerns. I do not use it because the people are still involved. Without the participation of the people, do not hope that we can control the situation. Now the situation is under our control, but just cannot end this November 28 event for the above five reasons. Let us continue this participation. We did not close the factory because the factory observed social distancing. What we are asking for is to avoid crowded gathering, close contacts. Please pause those for a while.

I am reiterating that the November-28 community outbreak is under control, but it has not been over yet. We are also not sure if, despite the announcement, it will happen in the community for the second or third time […] we can withstand it and there is no ban on people traveling, as opposed to placing the country in a state of emergency. Sometimes people are not allowed to leave their homes at all, leaving only certain services that may be needed on the road, such as doctors or the armed forces, suppliers, possibly some shops that supply medical supplies. […] On the issue of the status of Covid-19 in the framework of the first community outbreak, which I have dubbed the November-28 event, it is not over yet. I am calling on the people to continue with (our protective measures) situation. No one would die from not dancing for a while/a month. It is safer to stay home. Let us have good time in the family.

Vaccines a Major National Movement to Protect People’s Health

Now comes the second issue regarding (anti-Covid-19) vaccines. When I talk about vaccines, I am having goose bumps. I have not expected that the vaccine issue has become a major national movement. It has become an integral part of protecting the health of the people, a very broad and deep strategy in our nation, especially the spirit of national solidarity and racial unity. I would like to emphasize that when I posted on Facebook, I did not think about the contribution of the people. In that message, you may look at it I did not call for the participation of the people. Unlike some people who said about Mr. Hun Sen raising money for the payrolls (of civil servants and armed forces) because he did not have money to pay. I would emphasize that the amount people have contributed (for vaccines) is not even one-fourth the amount we spend for salary in Cambodia. We spent more than USD 200 million per month for salary. Do not be confused and do not underestimate the morale of the Cambodian people. I could not have expected it. I burst into tears because I did not expect that this is a large-scale national movement, compared to what I called the people’s defense movement, that happened in 2008 and 2011 and lasts to this day. It is the people’s national defense foundation.

No Anti-Covid-19 Vaccines Fund Created, but Accepting Generosity

I knew by the time the budget had reached USD 7 million already. I got the news from Fresh News. Oknha Leng Navattra contributed USD 1 million, followed by Oknha Hong Piv for USD 3 million, Oknha Kith Meng for USD 3 million, so it was USD 7 million. At that time, I started to see comments in Facebook and in messenger. Some people commented s/he did not have much money, only 50,000 riel or 20,000 riel, where could s/he give it. I posted another message giving the phone numbers, and locations where people can contribute. Then the banks also contributed to add the account number […] and this time the monks, people from all walks of life, including the disabled and children who ask for money from parents to share can also contribute. I use the word “tremendous.” Whoever wants to say anything should say it, but (whatever they say would be) an insult to the kindness of the monks’, compatriots, and to the King and Queen Mother, both of whom Contribute USD 1 million […]. Oknhas, some traders go to the million, to hundreds and tens of thousands, and some contributed only 5,000 riel, 4,000 riel. The amount is not big, 4,000 riel, 5,000 riel or 8,000 riel, but the motivation is huge.

Some have suggested creation of fund for Covid-19 vaccine, but I do not agree to it because I did not raise it. Our people’s hearts must be accepted, though, because this is their country, and the country of all of us. Insulting Hun Sen to raise money from the people is an insult to the King, an insult to the monks, an insult to our people. So far, as of yesterday, the total budget received from 38,411 philanthropists is 48,093,905.13 dollars and 3,900 million riels (in even number). That was the amount received as of yesterday, and in the same day, we sent the amount of 26,042,677 dollars and 3,900 million riels to the account of the Ministry of Health in Canadia Bank.

The spirit of the brothers and sisters is huge and comes from all walks of life – workers, farmers, the disabled, traders, artists, athletes. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to His Majesty the King, as well as to His Majesty the Queen Mother, for providing the funds for the purchase of this vaccine. I thank Samdech, Excellencies, Lok Chumteav, Neak Oknha, Oknha, all the benefactors, all the people who participated in this budget, including those who did not participate, but just consider this the right thing, thank you […] including people abroad that I follow on YouTube […] Last night I listened to Mr. Chetra and Jame Sok […]. I sometimes listen to Mr. Chhaya, who analyzed Thai stories, because we have time to find out information […]

Anti-Covid-19 Vaccination in Cambodia Free of Charge

I consider it a national movement that we need to keep it on and as foundation for the protection of the people’s health, because this disease is still ongoing. I would like to confirm to some of you who have commented on this/that platforms, including on my Facebook that s/he is willing to pay when the time has come for her/himself and her/his own families, and there may be some more people. (I am sure s/he) meant that s/he may have a business and some people working for them. However, the Royal Government would like to confirm that this vaccine is given free of charge. When the jabs arrive, we give them free of charge.

Now the question is if the vaccine has arrived, and there may be questions as to from which country will Cambodia buy it. I would like to share with you that some countries have produced and put their vaccines into use, but have to get recognition from the World Health Organization. In Asia, like yesterday, a country approved use of the Chinese vaccine, Sinovac. Indonesia used Sinovac, and yesterday the Philippine president was ready to buy from China, but China’s vaccine has not yet get the recognition from the World Health Organization yet. Russia has already used its own vaccines and has applied to the World Health Organization for recognition too. The United States, Britain and Germany have developed and used one. However, none has been had official recognition from the World Health Organization.

A COVAX Member, Cambodia to Receive Vaccine for 20% of Population

For us, how do we buy vaccines? We have done some of this work … I would like to emphasize that our country is a member of the COVAX facility. The COVAX facility is part of the United Nations-backed operation of the World Health Organization. COVAX facility will give us vaccines for 20% of the total population. If COVAX Facility gives us jab for 20% of the total population, we will have it for 3.2 million people. We follow the COVAX mechanism. It is clear that COVAX will not buy vaccines that are not yet recognized by the World Health Organization. We trust our partners. In order to have provision from COVAX facility it requires Cambodia to have a 5% contribution budget […]

DPM and Minister of Economy and Finance, HE Aun Pornmoniroth and HE Mam Bunheng have already signed for the 20%, but according to the COVAX mechanism, of the 20% quota, as a first step, we will receive only 3% of the promised 20% […]. Therefore, I have instructed the two ministers to register as buyers via COVAX for another 1 million doses and they have already sent the order to COVAX. I consider this not a fish market game, but a thoroughness that Cambodia must observe. We do not yet know the vaccine of which countries will be recognized. According to some information, such recognition would happen in January.

More Than 410,000 Prioritized Recipients of Vaccines

We need the first 1 million doses for 500,000 people, of which we already have a list. More than 410,000 are the first to be given priority. This includes those from urban garbage collectors, taxi drivers, tricycles drivers, clergymen, athletes, the army, police, health education officers, tax officials, customs officials, excise officials, and judicial officials in Courts, Court of Appeal, lawyers, prison officials, park rangers, forestry administration, fisheries administration, officials of the General Department of Defense. They also include electricity officer, Water Supply Authority staff, provincial councilors, provincial/municipal/district(Khan) Councilors, commune/Sangkat officials, clerks, village chiefs, deputy chiefs, member of institute and vocational training center, ministry of labor, higher education Establishments. We will continue to prioritize because those in the front line interact with people. For example, why should the commune/sangkat clerks? They have to work with the people who go to get documents, so s/he must have protective equipment.

I would confirm that COVAX gives us only 20% and initially only 3%, but we need to inject 80% or more of the population to be immune. If 80% of the population, we would have to inject 12,800,000 of our people, and say in rounded numbers – would be 13 million, not 10 million, as I posted on Facebook. That figure was the release of data before the committee’s meeting chaired by HE Aun Pornmoniroth. We needed to vaccinate 80% or more or around 13 million populations. So only children remain unvaccinated. People from the age of 15 and above will get vaccinated because we have a population of 16 million. If 13 million are vaccinated, then only children and adolescents are left. Adolescents 15 or 16 years of age receive free vaccinations. Now more than 48 million of the philanthropist’s budget can contribute to a small part of the needed amount.

No Raising, Cambodians Donating to Help People in Times of Emergency

Some accused me of being a fundraiser. We did not raise money. Cambodians donated to help people in times of emergency. Philanthropists immediately offered their money when building collapses in Sihanoukville and Kep, and when floods hit. Covid-19 came, people immediately participated, led by HM the King and the Queen Mother, a total amount of nearly USD 30 million, of which we spent nearly USD 20 million, and nearly USD 8 million remained. The contribution of nearly USD 10 million from civil servants who contributed from their salaries remains untouched. Now this budget for vaccine is going into account of the Ministry of Health. It is not under the control of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and I do not hold it either.

I heard some people asking to participate in inspecting how the money is spent … while they contribute not a single penny. When the NGO law requires them to report from where the money is, they refused to do it. We have mechanisms good enough to inspect it and thank you for your concern about transparency. Please note that if the Cambodian people do not believe, the Cambodian people will not contribute. You can go and try it for yourself. Without the current King and Queen Mother, without Prime Minister Hun Sen, how many people would trust you? I did not raise money. We even set aside the (state) budget, which in the previous meeting agreed to require the state to be ready to release USD 100 million without waiting for assistance through COVAX.

USD 538 Million to Buy Vaccine

[…] In addition to the state capital, which we have set aside around USD 100 to 200 million for vaccines, plus 48 million in philanthropy, we have received fund that can be used in the fight against COVID-19 as well as the economic recovery. From the Asian Development Bank, USD 250 million has already been withdrawn and kept at the National Bank of Cambodia. Japan’s JICA, 25 billion Yen – equivalent to USD 238 million, is preparing the formality to withdraw cash to store at the National Bank of Cambodia, and thirdly, South Korea’s EDCF, USD 50 million has been withdrawn and kept at the National Bank of Cambodia already. In all, we have USD 538 million in hand and not counting the government savings.

I have to make it clear as some questioned about this/that. I understand the main purpose of those questions is to remind me and react mentioning their names. Remember, Hun Sen neither speaks to you or negotiates with you nor mentions even your names. You only rely on Hun Sen’s words so that you are not forgotten. Let James Sok and Mr. Chetra or anyone else talk about it on live show. They do not even refer to those people by names either […]. We are managing a state. If we are crazy, the state would have collapsed already. They should pray that we are foolish, if they want to be the prime minister replacing Hun Sen. They should pray that Hun Sen is foolish. Why is it necessary to come and teach Hun Sen? If you want to downfall Hun Sen, you should push the boat along the water current […]

To Buy Vaccine Recognized by the World Health Organization

I can confirm that we have prepared through the COVAX mechanism for 20% of vaccine and placed an additional purchasing order letter through COVAX for another 1 million doses. However, I cannot answer yet when it will arrive and for confirmation, Cambodia only buys vaccines that are recognized by the World Health Organization. Cambodia will not allow its citizens for any company or country’s vaccine tests. That has been the absolute position of Hun Sen. In 2005, the then Minister of Health, who was planning to test HIV/AIDS drugs in Cambodia. I told him that Cambodians were not people for drugs tests for any countries. Even if the non-interest aid we will not take it because it concerns to the people’s health. It is not yet certain. We thank them for giving us but if after injections one or two people died or the health of the injected-people changed, there would be a big disaster. It would then be better to sit and wait wearing facemasks than to accept uncertainty […]

This is the position of Hun Sen, who always recommends that the Ministry of Health use no vaccines that are not recognized by the World Health Organization, which is like to go for a drug test for a company or a country. Saying this, I apologize to other countries, (what I have mentioned) is a separate case for Cambodia. Similarly, technology-related issue Hun Sen has said since 1988 that Cambodia is not a dumping ground for outdated technology. Thus, in Cambodia, we used analogue phones for a short period of time, then go digital.

Careful Transportation and Storage of Vaccines

[…] I am proud to be born a Cambodian and to join with our compatriots in building solidarity, extinguishing the flames of war, fighting, killing, stabbing each other, and reaching the stage of unity, managing and maintaining peace, promoting development, and solving problems of poverty. Now it is time for disaster reliefs from either flood or the Covid-19 that involved a major national contribution movement. I have said that we needed up to 26 million doses of vaccine, so to speak, but now the procedure for receiving (the vaccines for the population of) 3.2 million people or equal to 6.4 million (doses) has already been done. Another 1 million doses already processed. We already have priority list and the warehouse is being set up with storage that could store the jabs at 80 degrees below zero.

Once the vaccine is here, there must be a place to store it, and it is important to think about the transportation situation, which I would like to ask HE Mam Bunheng, HE Aun Pornmoniroth to look into the issue. If there is no truck yet that can deliver vaccine in below-zero temperature to places of vaccinating destinations and sites, we must be prepared to purchase them. In the past, we have already equipped various health centers with air conditioning for storing vaccines. This time, we also need to be well prepared. It is not just the vaccine but we need to be prepared with everything necessary. I know very well that concerned ministries and institutions are serious in doing the jobs […]

Not a Single Death by Covid-19

Now, what are the measures we need to take next? I am just pointing out the vision, but it could also be relating to the technical issues that the Ministry of Health has put forward. I did not produce this knowledge from myself. I learned from the Ministry of Health, and I study by myself so that I can make input and provide guidance to health institutions. No one knows everything. The lower levels need comments from higher levels, and vice versa. This is the experience of being the Prime Minister for almost 36 years and in other positions for more than 40 years that (the opposition) consider that (I) should go out and stop being a dictator. They accused me of being a dictator, but under my rule, no one died right now under my watch. In some democratic countries (there are) people dying (under their rules). I do not make inferences on anyone I just needed to inform the people.

Sitting as Prime Minister is not an easy thing. You may read the book by Mr. Chhay Sophal, which describes those who have been the Prime Ministers. No one has been the Prime Minister for more than 5 years. In the pre-independence era, there was a prime minister. After independence, His Majesty (Preah Norodm Sihanouk) also used to be the Prime Minister after he abdicated, but he did so briefly. Later, in the Lon Nol era, there was the Prime Minister In Tam for sometimes, and then Prime Minister Hang Thunhak – I do not talk about Lon Nol. I was talking about the position of Prime Minister. When Pol Pot became the Prime Minister for 3 years – he did not have full 3 years and 8 months, because it was already in 1976, he only ran for a few years before continuing to be the Prime Minister in the forest until he died. After 1979, Pen Sovann served as Prime Minister for more than 5 months, from the end of June 1981 to the beginning of December 1981. Mr. Chan Si hold the office for more than two years from 1982-1983 or 1984 for two and a half years. Hun Sen hold the office from 1985 through to 2021, as 2020 is almost over. Some should believe in the power of that person. Saying this is not for people to respect my power, but people without qualifications cannot survive the job, so to speak. Well, I listened to James Sok, who talked about it. At first, I laughed out. After laughing, I came to think well it is true. I cannot quite remember who actually said it. It can be either James Sok or someone […]

Some people are the Prime Minister on Facebook or the Prime Minister for example. I am the Prime Minister in office and I have been the Prime Minister since the country had nothing to eat. I needed knowledge and had to learn. I can only mobilize people to raise fish, but I do not know how to raise fish. People having a hard time raising fish, I can help solve. Previously, only the issue of pumping water to the rice fields was solved, but when we went down to Prey Veng for a while, we encountered the issue of high electricity prices relating to raising fish and raising frogs. Therefore, Electricity du Cambodge proposed a response to what the Prime Minister said to the fish farmers. I can only mobilize people to grow rice […] I do not badmouth anyone. It is just my own example. I do not know everything. In Khmer, there is a saying that goes “ten knowledgeable people are not as good as one with skills.” I am not the person who knows but who has skill.

  1. Four Recommendations

Now I would like to issue four recommendations.

Firstly, monitor the remaining people who have not been fully tested or have not been fully screened by the sub-national authorities and relevant departments. You have to look for people who are involved but have not taken the tests yet. Do you have people in proper quarantines? The sub-national authorities must not rely on doctors alone to do the jobs. Doctors are very tired. I will talk below about doctors later […]. This is the first recommendation. You can consider it as a recommendation or a regulation. Follow up the remaining people who have not been fully tested and the sub-national authorities have to take responsibility for that […]. Per diem (during quarantine) is a small issue, but do not let him/her run out of food. If the person who comes for quarantine is the head of the family, his children at home are waiting for food. We give 20,000 Riel to his home. He came here for quarantine and we send 20,000 Riel per day to the family. I decided to give it up to 15 days […] just give him/her 300,000 Riel … This is the Royal Government’s attention to them.

Secondly, apply the three protections measures. What are they? … they include 1 wearing a mask; 2 washing hands; and 3 keeping a social safety and personal safety distance of more than 1 meter and a half everywhere and applicable to everyone […]

Thirdly, continue to implement three don’ts. What are the three don’ts? First, do not go into a closed, unventilated area and use too much air conditioning. Find a well-ventilated space. We see that many infected in closed up shops with crowded people. Zando, for instance, many who entered were infected, except those who have strong resistant cells […]. Second, do not go to crowded places. For example, while exercising in the park, if there are many people in the park, just go find another place or wait for the crowd to leave. We have not banned people from shopping but they must keep a distance from crowds. Third, do not touch each other, do not shake hands, do not hug, do not put arms around each other’s shoulders, etc., when meeting. If you have a cold or are suspicious of Covid-19, do not go out or go to work. Consult with doctor at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital or the provincial hospital or any other hospital I will recommend below.

Fourthly, in shops, restaurants, canteens, banks, supermarkets, there must be staff assigned to monitor the temperature. If you do not wear a mask, do not enter and must have alcohol or hand wash gel, as well as always maintain a personal safety distance of more than one and a half meters. It is necessary not to sit in jostle manner and the shops staff must clean the space when the customer leaves the table or from the place […]

Hence, we must exercise these four measures as key topics for preventing (infections). We consider ourselves scared since we do not dare to shake hands, we wear masks and wash our hands, and we stay in safe distance everywhere from the crowded. Only we are scared of it (and take measures against it), we win over Covid-19.

  1. Preparations for 2021 and Beyond

Now I come to the part about preparations for the coming 2021, and beyond. We must anticipate a fact that there could be large-scale community outbreaks. (We) have to predict that. We must ponder of it to happen than not to happen. To think that it will not happen is an underestimation. If there is such an underestimation of how things could go wrong, we may fail to be prepared to respond to the situation as it happened. Be prepared. We have community outbreak now in specified locations and sporadically according to definition. We have it under control, just not finished yet. Dare we guess that (it will) not happen again? We had better think that it could happen again than it could not. The question arises as to whether there would occur on a large scale and we must be prepared for one. To deny the probability would result in untimely responses. I would make some recommendations to the health sector and all stakeholders.

Recommendations to Health Sector and All Stakeholders

First, know how to live normal life in a new way by adhering to changes in hygiene behaviors and implement all the four measures mentioned above.

Second, be prepared by strengthening the health services at the local level, especially to have a place for Covid-19 patients to avoid contagion and to equip equipment, especially in emergency areas. Everywhere has to be prepared for Covid-19 patients. It’s better to have than not to have it ready.

Days now, I ordered release from the warehouses respirators/ventilators and life-monitoring machines. For the Khmer-Soviet Hospital alone, we have added 30 more respirators and 50 life-monitoring machines. We also distributed them to the provincial hospitals. The Ministry of Health may buy more because when it comes to breathing aids, not only Covid-19 patients, ordinary patients also need them. Let us equip them. Spending money is not as bad as losing life. Let us order not 100 or 200 units, but as many as we would need them. Do not be afraid to ask the Prime Minister for money.

Therefore, His Excellency Mam Bunheng should immediately prepare a project to strengthen health services at the local level. What more do you need?  Prepare them. Considered there would be (large-scale community infection) is better than none. As far as life monitor is concerned, or a respirator, it is not necessary for the Covid-19 patients to use them. Patients of other diseases could also use them. Let us have them in hands […]

Third, strengthen surveillance of Covid-19 patients using community-based health systems, such as health centers, where more than 70% of the population use their health services to prevent transmissions into the community without us knowing it. That would be bad for the nation because of large-scale epidemics and economic catastrophe. There is need for cooperation with private clinics and hospitals […]

We have three battles to fight. The first battle was to prevent imported cases. Yesterday, two more Covid-19 positive imported cases – one Cambodian and one Japanese who works for UNICEF. In the second battle, we prevented the infection in the community, which we prevented for 11 months and entering to 12 months, it broke out. Now we have it under control, but we have not closed the case yet […]

Fourth, train more doctors to strengthen the capacity for examination and treatment. Last night I failed to discuss with HE Aun Pornmoniroth (on this issue that) I wanted to provide framework for additional recruitments of doctors/physicians.

Therefore, His Excellency Aun Pornmoniroth, His Excellency Mam Bunheng and His Excellency Prum Sokha (of Public Functions) would discuss the provision of framework for additional recruitments of physicians/doctors through the exams or physicians/doctors who are working under contract […]. I will give priority to providing framework for such recruitments, and I am willing to reduce the framework in other institutions […] however, His Excellency Mam Bunheng should first train the existing physicians/doctors to increase the number of doctors for the fight against Covid-19. As for the new recruits, I think that HE Aun PornMoniroth, Mam Bunheng, Prum Sokha are discussing on appropriate number. How many would HE Mam Bunheng need? These newly recruited physicians/doctors should not be brought in just to get the state framework and ask to be replaced without working. That will not be accepted. Acceptance conditions are to serve (the fight against) Covid-19.

Fifth, examine the possibility of expanding the laboratory in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, Battambang, because relying only on the Pasteur Institute can be difficult because it could exceed the testing capacity, leading to delays in early intervention to avoid Infection.

Speaking of the Institut Pasteur, I would like to express my appreciation and special thanks to the Institut Pasteur for testing the tens of thousands of cases of this community outbreak. Our good partners have been with us. Institut Pasteur, the US CDC, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and other partners are working with us to fight this deadly disease. Representative of the World Health Organization in Cambodia, according to her history, she is a doctor of infectious diseases. That is why we have good partners to fight together. In Phnom Penh, should we up capacity of experiment or not? It could be that in some instance, demand for testing exceeds the capacity of Institut Pasteur. The lab in Siem Reap is working and the ones in Sihanoukville and in Battambang are coming soon […]. In Phnom Penh, there is no shortage of buildings, only machines and staff. Our Institute of Public Health also makes hundreds or thousands of samples of those coming from outside […]

Sixth, provide adequate medical equipment, especially masks and personal protective equipment, to hospitals and health centers to help identify Covid-19 patients. Those specialists are at high risk of seeing patients every day before finding out if they have Covid-19 or not … I have given instructions in advance. Not enough weapons, not enough protection, not allowed to provide treatments. Allowing physicians/doctors to go and treat Covid-19 patients without personal protective equipments would result in more sick people. That is called Hun Sen’s strategy […]

Seventh, the patients transfering system must also manage and strengthen the capacity, and also need to have a suitable ambulance to transport patients and a team of doctors, especially to know how to send patients in and out to avoid transmission. According to what HE Aun Pornmoniroth asked for at the time of signing, the more than USD 200 million from Japan also included in the plan to purchase ambulances. Japan has offered 25 billion yen, equivalent to 238 million (US dollars). If there is a lack of means of transport relating to the transference of patients, we can buy more […]

Eighth, expand the emergency response team. This group must be expanded. In the past, we considered it sufficient, but when the problem arose, we saw that it had become insufficient. More emergency response teams must be set up, some taken from among physicians/doctors, or recruting more. If we stay with what we have now, if there are no physicians/doctors to take turns, working again and again, not enough sleep every day, every night, those physicians/doctors on duty may fall, and if the doctor falls, who will go to treat the patients? […]

Ninth, there should be a team of doctors divided into groups in each hospital and ready to provide services on the spot, and if necessary to move to help where there will be more outbreaks ... Well, we should look into and strengthen the experience of Khmer-Soviet Friendship hospital … it depends on the considerations of the responsible health department. This is the voice of the Prime Minister, though, recommending the Ministry of Health to take responsibility on this issue and be accountable to both the Prime Minister and the National Assembly […]

Tenth, prepare the quarantines places and manageers who seriously look after the quarantine centres – regarding locations, food and individual necessary items, and there must be guards on duty at all time … let me take an example, I would say that a tricycle rider is infected. He has to go to the hospital. Hospitalized and being in quarantine is the same. We must provide him 300,000 Riel so that he could send home for his wife and children […]

Eleventh, encourage the participation of the community, especially women at home to know how to protect the health of their own families, help provide information if there are newcomers who have not been in quarantines. So, women play the roles of the head of the family to take care of things to keep the family safe, to take care of the children, to keep the children clean […]

Twelfth, the local authority, the villages/communes, must contribute to educating people about healthcare in their areas of operations on a regular basis to participate in the prevention of transmission in their communities. In doing that, we must learn from the April experience which was a successful strory. Hang the speaker (on means of transport and) shout going back and forth to remind and warn them (of the disease and how to protect themselves) because our people are easily frightened but also quickly forgetting […]

Thirteenth, establish or strengthen the system of monitoring on the affected people and the disease reporting system more widely to help provide information quickly using digital technology. We need to strengthen the system to monitor the affected people and the reporting system in a comprehensive way, and I still maintain my position for 14 days, not a two or three days quarantines. They may say that Hun Sen is a dictator but at least I protect my people from getting infected and from dying. True, we are poor, but we also have a way of protecting the people […]

Fourteenth, encourage transparency and honesty in presenting oneselves relating to Covid-19 in order to take preventive measures quickly. I am calling on all citizens to be honest and present themselves and pointing to places where they were so that we can take immediate actions. I am thankful that so far those who found themselves suspicious go to the doctor … I am calling on our people not to discriminate against those who are Covid-19 positive […]

Continuing 4th Round of Cash Allowance Program from January to March 2021

Now I come to the part where I talk about cash allowance program for poor households, and maybe a topic that people are waiting to hear from Hun Sen. Now, please note that the cash program for poor families in the third round will end on December 31, 2020. Seeing that the situation has not improved, on behalf of the Royal Government, I decided therefore to announce providing cash assistance to the poor in the fourth round for the next three months – January, February and March 2021.

I would like to confirm that I did not mention again how much is to be given out, but I just want to confirm that for the first round that we do in two months, from June 25 to July 24, we have given 94,551,876,000 Riels, equivalent to 25 million (USD) to 53,838 families. This is what the Royal Government that some say did not help the poor at all had done. They can now go and ask the poor themselves and the poor can show up and tell by themsleves what has the Royal Government done? In addition to helping tens of thousands of families affected by the floods, the Royal Government has also done this cash allowance program. As of July, we have found 598,512 more families, which means that more households may have fallen into the Poor-1 and Poor-2 categories. At that time, we provided 106 billion Riel, which is about 30 million dollars. That was the first round.

The second round was from August to September. In the third month, August, the number increased to 644,665 families, which reqquired 115 billion Riels or nearly 30 million US dollars. By September, the number of families reached 661,684 families to provide more than 118 billion Riel more than ever. By September, the number reached 661,684 families requiring more than 118 billion Riel, more than the previous month.

Into the third round, we increased the number in October to 674,146 families, for whom we paid 120 billion Riel – equal to exactly 30 million USD dollars. As of this November, the data of poor households in the sixth month has reached 703,592 families, which will require 126 billion Riel. But this November is not over yet. According to the number from the Ministry (of social affairs), from His Excellency Vorng Soth, the total budget from the beginning was 674 billion Riels … about USD 160 million.

USD 200 Million for Cash Assistance Program for Poor Households

Those who slander that the Royal Government has not helped at all, please come out. The Royal Government has not ignored providing for our poor people. You have to remember that Hun Sen did not let anyone die of starvation without knowing it and did not solve it. We will continue to provide cash assistance for this December, and the people who have received it do not despair. The Royal Government has issued an order, as I am the Prime Minister, I have the right make decision on this and decided to continue providing for another three months – January, February and March – 2021.

By March, if the situation will not subside, we will be ready to continue, with a reserved budget of USD 200 million for this. Let us be clear today. If that (amount) is not enough, we still have money (to go on). If you want to ask where the money is, (let me tell you that) I do not need to use the national reserves, both gold in Switzerland and gold in London … we have saved more than USD 3 billion and spent very little from there because our incomes is enough. Even though Covid-19 has caused (troubles), as of last month, the internal taxes have reached more than 90%. With an estimated USD 2.6 billion of internal taxes plus USD 2 billion in customs, so we have at least USD 4.5 billion in revenue this year.

If Situation Improves, Cash Program Gradually Ends from March

Do not underestimate the government of Hun Sen. Do not be misled that it would collapse. But we do not brag, we need friends to help us. We dare withdraw money to build roads in Sihanoukville and they are real money, not the figures. According to His Excellency Aun Pornmoniroth, in a discussion, even if (the situation improves and cash program of the said) three months ceases, we will not disrupt it completely. There is going to be a transition. For example, if within the next three months, we see that situation has returned to better, the cash program will come to a stop. But it does not mean that we are going to stop it abruptly. There is going to be a transition. For example, there will be a three month transtition period. For the first month, example, we may reduce the allowance to 80%, the second month to 60%, and the third month to 50%, and stop completely at the fourth month. We explore all means so that people can have means to help with their living conditions. We do not feed them completely, but we provide them an additional help. In addition, in many other programs, the cash program for rural employment, we have added up to USD 150 million for cash for work.

Baccalaureate Exams Not Allowed on January 11

I would seek an apology from our people, the Buddhist monks, the compatriots for such a long expose since today’s topic related to live and death of our nation and people. I am seeking understanding from the Buddhist monks, every religions, all the people about the fact that we have not yet been able to end the November-28 community Covid-19 outbreak event. May all our students undersatnd that they cannot sit for Senior Secondary exam on January 11. I have to make a decision here because I have to be responsible. The exam on January 11 will not take place. There are only a few days left until January 11, so His Excellency Hang Chuon Naron has to figure it out from now.

[…] We have to accept what has happened for our country and for the world. The quality is a bit low and I really see the difficulty of failing to take the exam, but one student passed, while the other failed … If the difficulty is there, let them all pass. It will be over. (In fear of Covid-19) they may not be concentrating on the exams or some may not participate. In saying so, some would criticize me of intervening in the exam, but I anticipate a reaction. What do we use to measure? Semester exam taken as a basis. In fact, they study hard, but this Covid-19 obstructed them. If it was me to decide, I let them all pass.

As the Prime Minister, in the executive branch, I dare to take responsibility. If this decision is insulted, then tens of thousands of students will be insulted, because we have no better choice. Let me ask a question, if the joint exam does not work, and the exam in each high school does not work, because I do not allow it, how could I allow you to go on with the exam or think only about education sector, while leaving the general population. I cannot accept it. As the leader of the country, I am responsible to the parliament and to the King … I will not allow the exam on the 11th January, I am announcing it now.

What about the junior secondary school exam session on September 30, where there would be some who pass and some who fail. Well, if that’s it, let it be. We accept the reality of the situation. Even so, it is better than the Pol Pot era that we did not learn, and in the time before peace, we did not learn enough because we were busy running from fighting and the school were on fire. It is an incentive to unite against Covid-19 among our students, youth and young people. I apologize to His Excellency Hang Chuon Naron and other education officials because it is the duty of the political rights holders to ensure the country’s peace […]./.