Selected Speech Samdech Techo Hun Sen on the Handover Ceremony of Donation of AstraZeneca Vaccine from the Government and People of Japan to the Royal Government and People of Cambodia [Unofficial Translation]


In addition to the prepared speech, Samdech Techo delivered the following off-the-cuff comments that CNV has unofficially excerpted and translated for English readers/users.

August 1 – Vaccination Campaign for Phnom Penh Teenagers (12 to 17 Years Old)

I would like to take this opportunity to inform His Excellency, Lok Chumteav, as well as our compatriots across the country that the vaccination campaign (against COVID-19) for children and adolescents or teenagers aged between 12 to 17 years will start on the morning of August 1, 2021. I will preside over this vaccination at Calmette Hospital. After the ceremony, I will hold a press conference there. I will bring my grandchildren, along with His Excellency Lok Chumteav, who has children and grandchildren in their 12 years old and up (to 17 years of age), to participate in the vaccination. (We) started the campaign from Phnom Penh as a strategic point of blossoming. Our vaccination may start on August 1 in Phnom Penh, but when we have enough vaccines, in some places, we will vaccinate both adults and teenagers together.

If 13 Million People Vaccinated (82.25% of the Population), Immunity Achieved

We figured out our plan on vaccination. As we vaccinated 65.53 percent of the targeted ten million population, (it means) we have injected vaccines to 62.5 percent of the 16 million population. If we inject the teenagers of 12 to 17 years of age, which we estimated to be somewhere about two million, we will have vaccinated in all 12 million – 10 million (18 years and older) plus 2 million (teenagers between 12 and 17 years) we will have sixty-five percent of the population vaccinated. We could have more population and allow injections for those under the age of 12, if we get to somewhere around 13 million people, we would inject 82.25% of the population (- a percentage that) can be considered (good to ensure) immunity.

Parents to Get Their Teenage Children for Vaccination

I urge parents/guardians to get their children for vaccination to prevent this pandemic. It is common for infants and children to receive a series of vaccinations to prevent many of the diseases. They have had their vaccination at birth. So do not worry. I would like to confirm that one of my grandchildren who is turning 17 years old, has already had vaccinated because he has to go abroad to study next month. Therefore, there is no risk as far as vaccination is concerned.

Once Again, Thanks to the Government and People of Japan

Just before arriving here, I met with His Excellency Mikami Masahiro, Ambassador of Japan, and discussed further cooperation in the fight against COVID-19 and other cooperation. I would like to take this opportunity, once again, to thank the Government and people of Japan for providing the facilities, including the means for transporting patients, which has made it easier for Cambodia to transport patients to hospital. Through His Excellency, I would like to thank the Government and people of Japan on behalf of the Royal Government and the people of Cambodia. I hope that the remaining vaccines will be (delivered) to Cambodia so that we can use them in the campaign, which I hope that at the end of October we will be able to complete (vaccination of) 10 million people, and together, we can add 2 million or more of teenagers in our country.

The Royal Government to Vaccinate Target Aged Group That Doctor Allows

As for Phnom Penh, we must be ready to start the (teenagers’ vaccination campaign) from August 1. According to statistics, the current population of teenagers (aged between 12 and 17) in Phnom Penh is just over 190,000. Since those who come to work in Phnom Penh also have children (and bring them along), the statistic has recorded up to 280,000 of them. The Vaccination Ad-hoc Commission will provide (vaccines for) 230,000 people […] I would like to confirm that whether it will be 230,000 or 280,000, or even 500,000, we have to make sure they get the vaccines. (That the number of vaccine recipients) in Phnom Penh (increases is) because parents come to work and bring their children along, and there are teenagers who come to school too. It will also be relieving number of vaccine recipients in the province. On this note, we need to launch another campaign of this vaccination. At whatever cost it may take, the Royal Government of Cambodia must achieve immunization for targeted aged Cambodians whom the doctors allow.

Even with Vaccination, Continue to Implement Health Measures

The world, as in Cambodia, is placing hope on vaccines. We have also seen signs of a decline (of infection), especially in the factory areas of Phnom Penh, where there is a decrease in infections. In the case of an infection, the condition does not lead to serious illness or death. Cases of two doses of vaccination and still infected and still dying happen. It is not something that happened just in Cambodia. Even in the United States, the UK and Europe, where they claimed to have mighty vaccines, it also happened. Therefore, whether vaccinated or not yet, we need to hold on tight to the three “don’ts” and three “dos” measures.

Inoculation of 80% of the Population – Intended Target

… After the parents have vaccinated, (they know clearly that) there is no problem in getting their children at 12 years of age and older vaccinated. If only father and mother had vaccinated and three of their children had not, there would be no immunity in their house. On this remark, my goal is to vaccinate more than 80% (of the population). Let us think of this number. If 12 million people injected, we would have 75% rate of vaccination. If 13 million people injected, we would have 81.25% (of the population). We then will reach our goal of achieving immunity in a society. There will be only small children left. Those little ones, however, already vaccinated against six diseases. This is a challenge that we must address. At any cost, we must make efforts to find vaccines for the Cambodian people.

Well-being and Life of the People Guaranteed – The Important Legacy

Some have commented that perhaps Hun Sen’s biggest legacy is vaccines. I would like to reiterate that Hun Sen’s legacy is not just about vaccines. Hun Sen’s legacy (has been to) save the people from the death of the (genocidal regime) on January 7, 1979. Hun Sen’s legacy also has been to bring the Cambodian people out of the war (and) to bring peace and development to the country to this day. Hun Sen’s legacy is much more. I just wanted to remind you whether it was an inheritance or not, what is important to me is to ensure the well-being (and) the lives of the people. Primarily, it is not the right of expression or democracy but it is to grant the right to life. (I do not care) who would say what. (They may) criticize Cambodian law should they wish to, but the Cambodian law is made to protect human life. They may say whatever they wanted to. All I have been doing is protecting people’s lives.

Coffin Prepared for Covid-19 Corpses – Not an Insult but a Homage

No matter how hard we try to protect, we cannot stop people from dying. Like the arrangement of the coffin, which some people considered it an insult, I consider it my homage to all the corpses killed by COVID-19. I do not want to see any Cambodian who, at the time of COVID-19’s death, be wrapped in a mat and buried or cremated without a coffin. I want to emphasize that I have not insulted the lives of the people. In our Cambodian society, many old people who make their own coffins so that when they die they have ones. Therefore, I am not guilty of (having) set up a burial place, a crematorium, and a coffin for the body of COVID-19.

… I did not have the opportunity to hold a press conference today. I will hold a press conference on August 1, 2021 next week. Once the vaccination campaign for teenagers launched, I would allow the press sometimes for questions. In the meantime, I cannot help but explain to the Cambodian people about my actions relating to the burial places, crematorium, and coffin making and arrangement. Some have argued that in the end, one’s destiny is a coffin. Well, (in fact) they should thank me for having prepared coffins for burial since they could be available for corpses of their relatives too. Do you want your relative to die and buried or burned wrapping in a mat […]./.