Excerpt from the Audio Message: No Vaccines Should Be in the Warehouses When the Citizen Waits for the Jabs and Vaccination Is for Anyone Living in Cambodia [Unofficial Translation]

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His Excellency, Lok Chumteav, Governors of Capitals and Provinces

Today we have found some points that need to be corrected immediately. I noticed about the problem of provinces that exceeded the number of vaccinated people, such as Ratanakkiri, where, with a population of over 120,000 but have vaccinated more than 130,000. It is a good point. No matter where the citizens are located, the vaccine will be there. We have to apply this model elsewhere, as long as the people living in Cambodia, we give them the jabs, including foreigners. We, however, also see that some provinces have injected less number of people than those have not injected. In addition, there are also provinces with some populations that have not gotten their injections. Today, I checked in with Kampong Chhnang, Tboung Khmom, Pursat – the three provinces that came to Phnom Penh to receive the vaccines overnight after my order to Lok Chumteav Or Vandine, Chairman of the Ad-hoc National Commission for Vaccination.

I want to issue an order to His Excellency, Lok Chumteav, Governors of all cities and provinces that the priority now is to fight against COVID-19. Our most significant priority right now is to be accountable before the Royal Government on the vaccination campaign. I wanted to emphasize that we must not have vaccines lying in the warehouse while people are waiting for it. I have found out that the delay in some places is due to the supply of vaccines. Previously, we were short of vaccines, but now there are enough vaccines to send to destination.

His Excellency, Lok Chumteav, Governors of all capitals and provinces, must take charge of vaccination management, and must be carefully examining whether there are or are not enough vaccine (needed in your capitals/provinces). In case there is not enough vaccine, you have to send a request the Ad-hoc National Commission for Vaccination, with a carbon copy to me so that I can monitor the delivery of the vaccine to your province, for instance, there are provinces today that come to pick up the vaccines. I cannot recall any other provinces, but I ordered out overnight that it could not wait for tomorrow because our vaccine must not stay in the warehouse when the citizen does not have vaccines coming. This is a strategy for our advancement.

Moreover, we must not procrastinate and be idle in the case of vaccines shortage. As there comes requests for vaccines, the Ad-hoc National Commission for Vaccination must send the requested vaccines to the province, and the province itself must keep them there.

Waiting for vaccines to go from Phnom Penh (to the provinces) and (unpredictable) interruption is a real problem. The province needs to set up a proper place to store the vaccines, and after the first vaccination program, please prepare the second round of injections. Make sure we have both doctors and vaccines available. In remote provinces, the Ministry of National Defense, the Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and the Air Force Commander must use helicopters to transport vaccines to those remote areas. I have issued a strict order not to let this vaccine plan become loose […]

Vaccines are available in warehouses when there is vaccine shortage in the provinces, districts, and villages. The Ad-hoc National Commission (for Vaccination) is waiting for the provincial request for vaccines, while the provinces were waiting for the supply from the Ad-hoc National Commission (and did not bother sending requests). Do not let this happen. His Excellency Lok Chumteav, Governors of the capitals and provinces, shall be responsible to the Prime Minister and the Royal Government for the success or failure of this vaccination process.

I have observed what happened in two provinces. There are about 500,000 people who have not gotten vaccination, including Tbong Khmum and Kampong Chhnang, and another 80,000 of Pursat. They have just come to receive the vaccine tonight. That is the issue that wondered me about our (vaccination) figures, where we reached 5 million, 6 million, 7 million, up to 8 million at a fast pace. Lately, despite there is enough vaccine, the speed of our vaccination decreases dramatically. We recognize that we have added 2 million children and youth into our plan, but I would like to urge you to take this responsibility seriously and look at what works we must prioritize and what we should leave at a later stage for the moment. Combatting COVID-19 should be the priority for life and death of our nation. What we can do is restoring and saving the lives of our people through vaccination.

Therefore, I have issued a separate order to His Excellency, Luk Chumteav, the Governors of the capitals and provinces, to file a short report and send it directly to my WhatsApp group. The format should be simple – just the number of people to inject, how many injected, how many left, and is there enough vaccine, etc. I did not have enough data in the past […] I observed that tens of thousands of people had not been vaccinated. I am not sure if it was because there was not enough vaccine or what […]. The report, I reiterate, should be straightforward – number of people to vaccinate, the number of people who have vaccinated, and the amount of vaccines available. The data could help me verify the amount of vaccine in the national warehouse and if there is a shortage, we can borrow from the Ministry of National Defense about 500,000 doses, while we are waiting for new arrival in a few days.

I do believe, however, that we do not have a vaccine shortage. The issue is lacking of responsibility of the provinces/capitals, and the Ad-hoc National Commission for Vaccination in promoting the movement of vaccinations. This is a message, not an appeal. It is an order, and the Ministry of National Defense, the Commander-in-Chief, and the Air Force Commander should be ready to transport the vaccine through helicopters to remote locations. We do not lack means of transporting vaccines, but our responsibility. We need to distribute and boost the vaccination campaign with proper monitoring […]

I have to follow this work because this is a battle, a battle of the nation. It is unlike the struggle of Preah Vihear (brief war), when we could sleep. The battle of COVID-19 did not send us to sleep because it is surrounding the country […] this war is unusual. The war requires His Excellency, Lok Chumteav to have a clear responsibility. Please, Excellencies, Lok Chumteavs, all capitals, and provincial governors, join the (social media) group (I mentioned) tonight without waiting […]

When the doctor arrives, they have vaccine at hand, and there is no problem for vaccination. It is clear that there will be no vaccine shortage while the vaccines are stored in warehouses in Phnom Penh. The vaccine has to reach its destination, and the provinces have to monitor whether the vaccine has left the provincial towns, from the provincial warehouses to the districts, and to the communes successfully? We need to watch this work because now we see that the vaccine is in the warehouse in Phnom Penh when the provinces have in shortage of it. Still, we must be checking on this, if it stays in the provincial warehouses without getting to the districts where vaccination is undergoing. We cannot allow this issue of lacking responsibility to happen.

Please make a brief report and send it to me tonight. I will stay up. I have not seen any provinces sending in reports yet […] sent it to my WhatsApp number directly […] I have found out the reasons for the recent delays […]. Let me reiterate that wherever in Cambodia, people will get injected and do not need to have too complicate process about having to go to this/that province/district, for it. We must do this work thoroughly. It will be beneficial to the lives of our people.

We must all do this task together and consider this work our highest priority. Thank you, Excellencies, Lok Chumteav. I will follow up on this until we get to the last part of it. I do not give up on such a tedious battle, leaving the soldiers, the officers with the lack of weapons, the lack of ammunition in the fight against COVID-19 or the lack of vaccines given to the people. This battle is hotter than the military ones. Thank you./.