Selected Comments Samdech Techo Hun Sen, at the 137th anniversary celebration of International Labor Day – May 1, and the groundbreaking ceremony for Sihanoukville container terminal and the celebration of the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Cambodia and Japan [Unofficial Translation]


(1) Westerdam to return to Sihanoukville port to mark the history of Cambodia’s humanitarian gesture

Today we are celebrating three ceremonies together. The first is the celebration of the 137th anniversary of International Labor Day. The second is the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the container terminal at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port (SAP), and the third is the 70th anniversary of the Cambodian-Japanese diplomatic relations […] three years ago, everyone here knew that the port of Sihanoukville had done an important job of rescuing (the stranded) Westerdam ship, on which there were thousands of people who finally safely returned to their country. This is a humanitarian gesture of Cambodia. I heard that in December this year, the Westerdam will return to Cambodia with the SAP planned to make a historic mark on Cambodia’s concern for the right to life […]

(2) Respect workers’ rights, not just one day, but every day

Every year on May 1st, I come here to talk to SAP workers on behalf of workers throughout the Kingdom of Cambodia. We have thousands of factories. We cannot go talk everywhere. I chose Sihanoukville Port to hold a get-together on behalf of workers across the country. On behalf of the Royal Government and on my own behalf, I would like to express my gratitude and congratulations to the workers all over the country who have worked hard to contribute to the development of the nation. Today, there are probably not less than 90% of factories that hold happy workers’ gatherings […] I would remind you that “effort to respect for workers’ rights is not just one day, May 1st. We must respect workers’ rights regularly, daily, every time.” That is the best point in the relationship between workers and factory owners […]

(3) Do not internationalize demonstrations, hired demonstrations are not respect for rights

I would ask some foreign friends who have sponsored the internationalization of the (remaining) more than 100 demonstrators for more than two years. It should not be. It was started with more than 300 demonstrators and the number has dwindled to just over 100. (One can) raise the question “how can someone who is a worker can, during the two years of unemployment, feed themselves and are full of energy to protest? It is not that the Royal Government does not know where is the source of their financial support?” Hired demonstration is not a good thing and it is not a respect for rights […] may our foreign friends who give such money, withdraw themselves, and stop internationalize the demonstrations in Cambodia […] some unions in Cambodia are given money by foreigners […]

(4) If the port falls under private management, Japan would not lend money and provide assistance

I should remind a little bit (regarding the poet management), and SAP must remember. If I had not been careful, this port would have fallen into private hands. It was in the time of coalition government. I did not agree with giving this port to the private sector. I can say that if this port becomes a private port, we could not expect Japan to lend us money and provide assistance for this port. Definitely, Japan will not involve […] Hun Sen has been a surgeon who makes this port of Sihanoukville grow […] Some say how could we develop the port while we have no money. I say that (if we have not got money yet, we may leave) the port (as is) and it is not rotten. Leave it at that and wait until we can afford to build it. This year marks the 70th anniversary of Cambodia-Japan relations […] I have worked with my Japanese friends for 33 years, from the time of His Excellency Toshiki Kaifu as Prime Minister and Taro Nakayama as Foreign Minister. That was the time when I traveled to Japan to sign the establishment of the Supreme National Council (SNC). Japan has contributed to the search for peace in Cambodia. Next, Japan played an important role in providing grants for the development of Cambodia […]

(5) Japan’s way to help Cambodia pay off debt so that it can borrow again

Japan agreed to give us a loan only in 1999. Why is that? […] the reason is the previous regimes owed money to Japan, especially the Lon Nol regime. Japan calculated those debts in principles, interests, and the fines. As a rule, if we have not repaid them yet, we cannot borrow more money […] Japan knows we do not have money to repay the debts. What does Japan do? Japan supplies Cambodia with corrugated zincs, gasoline, and kerosene for sale in Cambodia. We sold them out […] we got the money to pay Japan […] Japan got the money and put it in our treasury. They did not take the money out to Japan […] when we have paid those debts we signed (with the former Japanese ambassador (Satoshi) Saito to start building the port […]

(6) Negotiations with the Prime Ministers of Japan on deepening Cambodian ports

Before His Excellency Shinzo Abe stepped down as Prime Minister in 2018, in Tokyo, […] we agreed to focus on what is called maritime logistics. We pinpointed on issues related to the port of Sihanoukville […] with His Excellency (Fumio) Kishida, the current Prime Minister […] in Tokyo and in Phnom Penh, I continue to raise this issue with Japan. Why? […] before the port was expanded, our water depth was over eight meters. Japan has (helped) to deepen the port up to 9 meters 2 meters deep […] and the port can receive 18% of the cargo ships […] investors in Cambodia still have to bear the shipping cost of 200 USD per Container or TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) […] in 2026, (the port will have) water depth up to 14 meters 5 water […] that can receive up to 93% ships with a profit of USD 200 per container. By 2028, as the second phase, we will have a 400-meter-long container port ready and a water depth of 16 meters 5 meters, at which time, in the Asia-Pacific region, we do not need to transfer goods at any ports any more […] and finally, by 2029, the new container terminal of 430 meters long will be ready and the water depth of 17 meters 5 meters will ensure (the capacity of the port in) Cambodia the same as anywhere in the world […]

(7) No other port to replace Sihanoukville Port

[…] I would like to emphasize that there is no other port that can replace the sea port in this place (Preah Sihanouk) […] along with the expansion of this port, we have to pump and deepen the waterway. If the water is not deep, it means that we build the container port and there are no ships tom dock at this site because the big ships can’t get in […] we are now at 9 meters deep. We will make it 17 meters 5 deep […] the profit is to attract investors to Cambodia, including Japanese investors. I support the Ambassador’s initiative to integrate the port with the SEZ right next to it. Japanese investors will see that an attraction for investment […]

(8) Cambodia supports the initiative that 1) serves peace/development 2) does not oppose countries/groups of countries and 3) respects the ASEAN Centrality

[…] A number of Japanese initiatives have received support from Cambodia, such as the free and open Indo-Pacific. Cambodia is the first country to support Japan […] based on three principles, not just for Japan, but for all countries […] firstly, serve peace and development […] if it is just coming up with ideas that are not serving peace and development, but fight, I do not support […] secondly, it must not be against any country or group. It must not be an alliance to oppose each other […] and thirdly, it must respect the ASEAN centrality and ASEAN Indo-Pacific ideology […]

(9) Trade volume between Cambodia and Japan in 2022 rose to 1,948 million (US dollars)

[…] Back to the relationship between Cambodia-Japan trade […] the trade volume between Cambodia-Japan in 2022 last year reached 1,948 million (dollars), of which Cambodia exported to Japan 1,173 million and Japan imported to Cambodia USD 774 million. I sincerely hope that during the Ambassador’s tenure, we will increase the volume of Cambodian goods to Japan. Cambodia and Japan are members of the RCEP but with existing bilateral relations we just need to strengthen it to allow more Cambodian goods to enter the Japanese market […]

(10) In November, Japanese fireworks on Independence Day; Water Festival; and 70th Anniversary of Cambodia-Japan relations

The former Japanese ambassador, who is now the president of the Cambodia-Japan Friendship Association, proposed to fire Japanese fireworks in November 2023 in front of the Royal Palace […] we can fire fireworks in front of the Royal Palace three times. The first one was to be fired at the celebration of Independence Day, November 9 […] next, we fired for 3 nights and 3 days on the day of the water festival – boat racing, eating Ambok (flattened freshly harvested rice), to worship the moon god […] and on another special occasion to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Cambodia-Japan relations […]

(11) Let us celebrate SEA Games as a national holiday for Cambodians

Last night I went up to watch (football match). I could not see any broadcast. I asked to (Fresh News) Vutha, can you help me watch any live broadcast (of football matches)? Then, I called the national television. National TV replied that it only broadcasts the match between Cambodian and foreign pairs […] SEA Games is just a few days away, and just sending the SEA Games torch to the province, people make it a festival in the provinces. People wanted to watch, and you do not do the broadcast? Please tell the national television this evening that the live broadcast must be up and ready […] the Prime Minister needs this country to become a national holiday for the Cambodian people. It is the pride of the Cambodian people. Why leave Cambodia quiet during the SEA Games? […] I am calling on all private TV stations, if the national TV is lazy, to start broadcasting for people to watch […] the national holiday events […]

(12) SEA Games free (of charge) attracts people to know Cambodia

[…] There are some who criticize the fact that Cambodia does not charge participation fee in the SEA Games. I am not hostile to money, but the fact is that Cambodia does not charge (fees for the SEA Games) aims to get people to know Cambodia. Cambodia is poor, but its heart is generous […] we are spending 7 million dollars to provide with foreign players/athletes […] I believe that in the next SEA Games in other countries, they will consider not charging from Cambodia […] what Cambodia wanted is to show Cambodia’s heart as we did to the Westerdam […]

(13) Send players/athletes to compete; not just to win, but to ensure dignity […] I have to meet with our players/athletes who are going to the SEA Games. Every time before going to the SEA Games, I always meet with them to send them off officially. Even if they play at home, I have to send them at the Peace Palace to get them to play well as hosts. We do not just want to win, but we must do our best to ensure dignity. I am calling on our citizens to observe dignity, do not jump over the fence where there is no ticket […]./.