Selected Comments Samdech Techo Hun Sen, Conversation with Workers at Marvel Garment Factory in Royal Group Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone [Unofficial Translation]


(1) Cambodia provides 1 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine and some medical equipment to Myanmar

[…] It was difficult to forbid us (from meeting each other). It is like we – father and children or grandfather and grandchildren missing each other. Hopefully the Ministry of Health will not sue us for violating safety distance rules […] I should clarify the purpose of the meeting. In fact, this is my second round in the process of meeting with workers. I have been wanting to meet since 2020, but Covid-19 broke out. We paused. In 2021, Covid-19 continues. We also suspended. In 2022, Covid-19 remained and we still had measures such as taking pre-test prior to joining events […]

[…] The World Health Organization has determined that (Covid-19) is a normal disease, not a public health crisis anymore. Today the plane is flying from Cambodia to Myanmar. We provide 1 million doses of vaccine with other vaccination equipment to Myanmar. Lok Chumteav Yok Sambath, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Health, accompanies this vaccine […] there is a lack of vaccine over there and we have some vaccines in store. we have to share with friends […]

(2) Meeting in the second round to review the progress, recommendations and regulations instructed in the first round and what to respond

[…] We now have Covid-19 under control. The fact that I started the second round (of this meeting is) to meet with workers to review the progress of the recommendations and regulations laid down in the past and what else to do to meet the wishes of workers […] in his report in the future, the Minister of Labor and Vocational Training should make a report clarifying the difference between the status of our workers before the first meeting and what did the workers receive after the meeting? […] for example, the problem of pregnant women giving birth. Previously, any female workers giving birth would entitle to three months leave with only 50% of her salary. After the first-round meeting, the pregnant woman benefits the 90 days leave with 120% of her salary […]

(3) Peace and political stability attract more domestic and foreign investments

Thanks to the peace and political stability that we have, we have the opportunity to attract both domestic and foreign investments to produce in our country for export. Our exports in the past were very small. Now the volume of exports is getting bigger and bigger and from year to year our exports are increasing. We do not depend on one or two markets. We depend on many markets. Although some places are at risk of economic downturn, while our exports to that country are declining, we can still increase exports elsewhere […] while some countries reduced orders from Cambodia, there are still countries whose economies are in good shape increasingly buy from Cambodia, creating a diversified situation as we pursue an outward-looking foreign policy. More external relations, more external markets, more exports. At the same time, we do not depend on any particular country. They cannot kill us because of their economy or their politics […]

(4) Provide infrastructure to attract investment to the provinces

The size of our exports is still large. We strive to attract local investors for the whole country, not just in Phnom Penh. In Phnom Penh, there are more factories in the economic zone than anywhere else. I remember that in one of the government and the private sector forums in 1999, I pointed out that the necessary infrastructure should be built to attract investment to the provinces. Otherwise, people from the provinces rush into Phnom Penh to find works. Now there are factories in the provinces, not only in Phnom Penh and Kandal, but also in Kampong Cham, Takeo, Kampot, Pursat, Sihanoukville, Koh Kong, and Svay Rieng […]

(5) The minimum wage in Cambodia shall not be less than $ 200 / month

[…] Comparing salaries in Cambodia with some countries in the region, the current minimum wage of Cambodian workers is US$ 200 (per month). I heard that this factory has a higher (salary level), including other benefits. Nationwide, salaries should not be less than US$ 200 […] Cambodia allows factory owners (to pay in dollars) to secure their benefits. We think about the sovereignty related to the Riel, but if we require them to put it in the bank, and release the Riel cash back, sometimes it may incur losses. That is why in some places we offer the opportunity for workers to receive payment in Riel, and in some places, the majority I would say, to receive in dollars […]

(6) Doubling social benefits for women with pregnancy 

reminiscing the past is useful as we can compare it with the present and to prepare for the future. By 1997, Cambodia had only 64 factories. There were only 80,000 workers. The export volume at that time was only 270 million US dollars. These 80,000 of our workers were paid only US$ 40 […] in 2023, the total number of factories is recorded at 17,000 and the total workforce of 1.5 million […] I thought we had our policies covered everyone […] but when I asked in Sihanoukville, it has not been implementing there […] the past practice had been covering only the (women with pregnancy in) informal economy and the poor. From now on, it will be applied to workers in factories/enterprises as well […] we have now doubled this benefit or increased 100% […]

(7) Childbearing till the child is of two years will receive a sum of 1.52 million Riel

Previously, workers take benefits from social equity card (SEC) and money provided for childbirth […] we decided to increase the child bearing and birth 100% of the amount we applied. Previously, you received only 40,000 Riels every time she goes for prenatal care checkup. With the new policy, every prenatal care checkup, the mother will receive 80,000 Riel at a time. Before giving birth, there will be four prenatal care check-ups […] probably not many countries have done that […] according to this policy, a woman from bearing to birth until her child is 2-year-old, she will receive a total of 1.52 million Riel […]

(8) Starting from August, it requires a sum of nearly 13 million US dollars more than the amount spent in the past

The Royal Government must take the burden of paying them. Women with pregnancy in poor households, farmers and informal workers, must know about the amount they are entitled to […] starting from August, we will implement the new policy that doubles the amount, which is a 100% increase in child-bearing for women […] implementing the second round of social protection for female workers and poor headed households, we need to increase each year a sum of nearly 13 million US dollars, more than the amount spent in the past. Spending this US$ 13 million will not lead to the collapse of the Royal Government. We are investing in people. Our policy is to solve problems for people […]

(9) The Meeting solve problems for families depending on workers’ incomes

There should be a comparison of what people have benefitted after I have laid out the principles for the first time? What happened after the visit? It is to confirm the progress that we have achieved in the first phase. Hun Sen is not a horse rider looking at flowers. I wanted to know about the well-being of workers and how to solve problems for workers? This is the national economic problem, the employment problem of the people, the income of the people that we must find a way to solve. Some say that Mr. Hun Sen is definitely visiting the worker for political gain. Let me tell you, if all we did is for the lost course, one would not do it […] you who say it are also doing it for the gain. What I am doing now is for these children and their family members who are dependent on the incomes of these children and grandchildren […]

(10) Prevent inflation, maintain purchasing power and exchange rates, landlords keep rents reasonable

The Royal Government pays attention to curbing inflation, maintaining the purchasing power of what our children and grandchildren receive. If inflation happened, and if the workers are paid in Riel, when the riel loses its value, the purchasing power will be weakened. Even though we have dollars, should the price of goods be so high, you have a problem still. (Therefore) I beg the landlords to do their best to keep the rent price reasonable so that our workers can stay […]

Along with addressing and reviewing progress and implementation, I still call on all to maintain peace, political stability as the key to development in all areas. All factories must become a safe community where employers and workers are united, understanding and tolerating each other, and taking all laws and standards as a basis (in resolving their conflicts) […] factory owners understand and care about workers’ well-being. When workers are healthy, workers are more productive. Every factory pays attention to additional training for our workers. In the past, our factories were small and foreigners came to work in many professions. Now, in many factories, chiefs, division chiefs, team leaders, division commanders are Cambodians […]

(11) To strengthen the implementation of the set-out recommendations

Recommendations should be strengthened and implemented, including measures to be taken in co-operation between the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation and the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training. When you start the process of child-bearing or to get pregnant, you must go for a prenatal care check-up […] by the way, is the bus service back on now? ok, it is. In the process, workers are taking the bus for free, one of the ways to help the workers, help the poor people, and our workers are getting free bus rides […]

(12) “This party does not want to participate in the election knowing that it will lose” and wished the foreigners to criticize the Cambodian Government […] One birth certificate, I do not believe they have lost it. It could be left with someone who is a leader. Their goal, which I analyze here, is not to get this party to contest, knowing that it will lose. What they want is for foreigners to oppress Cambodia […] I am neither the National Election Committee nor a member of the Constitutional Council, but I think it is a ploy by someone to make the certificate disappear […] the goal of these important leaders is to get some foreigners who love them to criticize the Cambodian government […] I do not think it has vanished to anywhere, but they hide it. That is cheap political goals […]./.