Selected Comments Samdech Techo Hun Sen, at the Inauguration of the Statue of Preah Thaong and Neang Neak (Preah Thaong and the Naga Lady), Sihanoukville City [Unofficial Translation]

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CNV:

Statues of Preah Thaong and Neang Neak – a Tribute to Emergence of Territory

Today is April 16, 2022 and is also the third day of the Khmer New Year, Buddhist era 2566 […] we have a wedding ceremony to install and officially celebrate the statues of Preah Thaong and Neang Neak in the city of Preah Sihanouk. I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to Deputy Prime Minister, His Excellency Chea Sophara, and his team, as well as our engineers and technicians who have carefully and comprehensively thought out the design and the infrastructure that represent the territory of Sihanoukville as well as the territory of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

It’s not a coincidence and by chance that the development of the coastal area here happened with careful consideration of the leaders and working teams who have worked in the city associated with the former King Preah Borom Ratana Kaod, for whom there is also a statue of lion that represent him. These points clearly indicate our concern for the emergence of territory as well as the emergence of the Sihanoukville, which is now a multi-purpose developed province. I appreciate and admire the work of Cambodian children, for whom, the words hanging behind our backs, “We Khmer Can Do It” is even more valuable […]

Four Meanings about Preah Thaong and Neang Neak in Khmer Wedding Ceremony

We know that this is a location where there are roads connecting with each other to different destinations. The point where we install the statue of Preah Thaong and Neang Neak, despite what has been said in history, if we look closely, at least in the present time and also to the future, we will see that it associated deeply with our Cambodian wedding ceremony. Please take a look and check carefully at the time of the wedding, at least there are some points drawn from the story related to Preah Thaong and Neang Neak.

Firstly, men asked women’s hands. Although in the past there have been stories that men had to do so because they failed to build a mountain higher than the one that women did, men had to be the one who asked women for their hands. However, the real meaning is that (this statue) associated closely with Khmer legends or Khmer weddings at the point that men asked the women’s hands.

From what we have learnt on history, in the wedding, before coupling, the woman has to hold the man’s hand and lead him into the coupling session. That is the second point.

The third point, after the ceremony is over, the man holds the woman’s veil and follow her – that where we called Preah Thaong and Neang Neak. In this tradition, the wiseman Kun learned about it […]

Another thing, the fourth point, is that in Cambodian wedding ceremony, there is this session of “Bok Lak” or invocation and dentistry ceremony. The wiseman Kun explained about this ceremony is to neutralize the poison of the dragon (Neang Neak). The invocation was not to brush a man’s teeth, but to wash a woman’s teeth, which means to demise the poison of Naga […]

Various Statues in Sihanoukville – Tourism Products

The emergence of various statues in Sihanoukville is symbolic of the birth of the territory as well as the birth of Sihanoukville, but it has also become products that attract tourism. I saw postings of pictures from here, just take (Preah Thaong and Neang Neak), a few days after they were mounted. Yesterday, a lot of people (came to take photos). Hopefully, our people who wanted to know and come to take pictures from here and statues in some other places, including the lion statue, which represents the statue of the former King Norodom Sihanouk, which is worthy of the province, will visit them […]

Peace and Vaccination Make Sangkranta Possible Everywhere

Secondly, this New Year, people are happy. Today is the third day (of the last day of Sangkranta), the day of the ascension or entrance to the new year. I received a report from HE Thong Khon that from the first day we had 860,000 people going and visiting places. Yesterday, more than 1.5 million Cambodians turned out. Let us also not forget that people are also enjoying the Sangkranta in the villages, communes, pagodas, everywhere. (We have) Sangkanta by village, Sangkanta by commune, Sangkanta by district, Sangkanta by province and Sangkanta by high school or university.

Last year was a difficult year. What we did and the efforts we made last year was for what is happening this year. What we did in the last few months was for what is happening today. I have publicly announced that we are determined this year to celebrate the Khmer New Year. Our people have already missed the celebration for two years […] and it was because we did not have enough vaccines to inoculate at the time. As (we have obtained sufficient amount of vaccines) and inoculated, or to put it bluntly, to blanket the vaccination (we have stepped towards) ensuring the immunity of our community.

People’s New Year Joy because of Peace, Vaccinations, Means and Roads

Thanks to the fact that we have managed well the Covid-19 pandemic and with the peace that we have gained over the last 24 years, their means and better road infrastructure, people have been able to travel everywhere to celebrate the New Year holiday. At this point, as I join the people to enjoy the holiday, I am wondering what will happen after this. I remain committed and have faith in our people. Yesterday, the second day (of the new year), the number of (Covid-19) infected people was only 19, and the figures from yesterday released today, the third day (of the new year), the number of infected people are only 12. At the same time, the Royal Government has marked four provinces – Ratanakkiri, Mondulkiri, Stung Treng and Preah Vihear as provinces where people are not required to wear masks, or leave it up to the people whether to wear a mask or not.

Cambodia’s Pride – People Vaccinated and Enjoying the New Year Indiscriminately

I find happiness and unity among the people in the villages, in the communes, and in every resorts, even though our country has 17 parties ready to compete in the future. We did not see any signs of discrimination among our people for the election to come. They dance and have fun playing together, regardless of whichever party they belong to. As far as vaccination is concerned, we noticed the same trend. In Cambodia, people do not discriminate against each other. No matter which party you belong to, you all get the vaccine.

This is the pride of Cambodia or of our Khmer people at the celebration of arrival of the new year, the year of Tiger, Buddhist era 2566 tomorrow. Today is the middle day (of the three days celebration), and tomorrow will come (the Buddhist era 2566). This year is a good year and hopefully our people will continue to enjoy the celebration […] I think, though it is the last day, April 16, our people will continue to celebrate because today is Saturday and they would continue to Sunday, while some can go beyond because the usual practice of our people is to enjoy the celebration a week before and half a month after the official ceremonial days.

Apply No Covid-19 Management Law, No PCR Test on Oversea Khmer

I do not intend to impose any restrictions on the celebration of (the Khmer New Year) and I ask the authorities at all levels not to enforce the rules governing Covid-19 and other infectious diseases. Please do not apply them during the New Year, unless there is a serious infectious situation, we will be able to announce to the people to suspend the celebration or cut down activities. Thus, in the villages, communes in the tourist areas continue to operate normally.

Although I still have concern, I would rather allow people to travel within the Kingdom. Cambodians living abroad are welcome to visit Cambodia, as there is no requirement for a PCR test for 72 hours, and there is no requirement to take the test here. We leave all these responsibilities to our people. If there is any sign of concern, let them seek testing and if positive, seek immediate medical attention themselves.

Do Not Wait for War to Break Out to Seek and Shout for Peace

Another point that I would like to convey and inform to my compatriots is that 47 years ago on April 16, 1975, today is the day that I have changed from a person without a disability to one with one eye loss. I fainted and did not know what happened after. That is the (consequence) of war. Our country lost peace because the war raged since when the March 18 coup that overthrew Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk. It is on this note that on the occasion that I have the chance to lead the country, I am determined to lead this country on the road for and of peace, and I sought peace for the people.

I do not want young people and children to have the same misfortune as I did, and become victims of war. We do not want anyone to destroy the peace of the country. It is with peace that we can have the opportunity to celebrate the New Year or celebrate everything required of all races residing in our country […] that also indicates that peace is very precious. Do not wait for war to break out and shout for peace. Do not wait until there is a war to think that peace is valuable. We need to see that peace is priceless to us now and in the past. We all have to defend it together, no matter which party s/he belongs to, there is a need for peacekeeping.

Appeals to Continue Celebrating New Year and Prevent Covid-19 Infection

I would like to take this opportunity to call on our people to, firstly, continue to implement medical measures to prevent Covid-19 infection. If in doubt, take the test immediately. If you are positive, isolate yourself and seek immediate treatment to prevent the spread. Although we have allowed only four provinces to allow people to choose whether or not to wear a mask, in the past three days we have not seen many people wearing masks, except at this event […]

Secondly, get a third or fourth booster dose for everyone. I know that from the beginning, people knew/understood that when vaccinated, they had to stay off bath for a day or a few hours. Well, even though we set up a lot of vaccination sites, but because the people needed to stay off a bath, and they needed to play splashing water, they did not get vaccinated. Hopefully, today, the April 16th, tomorrow, the April 17th, before returning home, people get themselves the vaccination at the places at their disposals in the provinces, at the pagodas and in some other places, with the arrangement of the provincial authorities.

We will do this to ensure that Cambodia is sufficiently safe. While celebrating the Khmer New Year, millions of people come out and some places are very crowded, the infectious situation has not been noticeably surging. We however have to wait and see the trend after the Khmer New Year for 1 week to 2 weeks before we can fathom how far the level of infection would be. We will then continue to take the necessary steps to respond to the situation. I hope that the people will accept this request by working hard to adopt the booster dose to ensure that our country is sufficiently safe.

The third point is to call on everyone to respect the traffic law so that happiness does not become sorrow. In the past few days, Covid-19 has not had any deaths (but the traffic accidents did). That’s the point we all need to pay attention to.

Fourth, the authorities at all levels, the armed forces of all kinds, continue to work hard to maintain security and social order for the safety of the people. Everywhere there are organized forces (to look after security) and I take this opportunity to express sincere appreciation to the authorities at all levels throughout the Kingdom of Cambodia, as well as the armed forces of all kinds who have contributed to maintaining security and social order. People can travel day and night without fear of war and harassment by thieves and robbers. Keep up the good work.

Tourism: New Year’s Eve Tourists Exceeded Years Before Covid-19

In my understanding, not only today, but tomorrow, tomorrow or a few days later, the so-called New Year steam continues in the villages, communes or places that attract people from one place to another. Although this year we still have the effects of the Covid-19 as well as the Russia-Ukraine war have pushed up gas prices, people are still determined to go out. Of course, some people cannot hang out. Looking at the number of people who travel places to celebrate, (we see) that there is a larger number. (The Minister of Tourism) HE Thong Khon compares the number of this New Year visitors and those from the year before the Covid-19 strike, and considered this year turnout is bigger […]

People Encouraged to Take Third and Fourth Booster Doses for Free Everywhere

According to the original program, I was not supposed to give a speech, but I would like to send a message from here to people across the country through the live broadcasts of radio as well as television and through Facebook online a message that they enjoy the Khmer New Year celebration with attention given to the spread of Covid-19. Please note that the authorities are responsible for security and order and will not apply any fines related to the management of Covid-19 during the new year.

I will continue to monitor this work. Over the next week we will be able to assess the community immunity. However, whether there is an infection or not, I continue to call on our people to receive the third dose of the booster vaccine, which has so far given to more than eight million people. We still therefore have remaining six million people who have not taken it yet. Just over one million people have taken their fourth booster doses.

I am advising our people do not think that two basic doses are enough. Seek a third dose and those with a third dose seek a fourth dose. We are able to supply vaccines to people for free and everywhere. We do not need to ask from which village or commune they come, as long as they needed ones, the doctors will provide them the inoculation.

I humbly extend my best wishes to His Majesty the King, all the monks, Excellencies, Lok Chumteavs, our compatriots here as well as throughout the country, including our Cambodian brothers and sisters living in other countries and our armed forces, stationed in Central Africa, Mali, South Sudan, Lebanon, who may be watching live or watching live later, wishing you all peace and prosperity on the occasion of the Khmer New Year, the year of Tiger, BE 2566, which came for three days today. May you be blessed with the five Buddhist blessings: longevity, nobility, health, strength, and wisdom […]./.