Selected Comments Samdech Moha Bovor Thipadei Hun Manet, meeting with the Cambodian Communities in the United States of America and Canada [Unofficial Excerpts and Translation]


(1) A show of Cambodian national unity and a report on changes in the country

[…] Samdech Techo sent his greeting to granduncles, grandaunts, uncles, aunts, and brothers and sisters, who have come from Canada and the United States. Samdech may have been watching our live broadcast as well […] the participation of this large crowd confirms the spirit of our Cambodian unity everywhere. We are here together to first celebrate in the spirit of Cambodian national unity and second to get information on the evolving situation in our country […] (however, I) can inform you of the activities in the last 30 days. Today is day 31. Some say (the newly formed Royal Government is) to wait (until) 100 days (to make a statement, but) the new government does not have to wait (to) 100 days. From the first day, we set out a policy to work both inside and outside the country for the national interest […]

(2) In one month, two different speeches delivered in two different places but in the same goal

Coincidentally, (it has been exactly one month from) when the National Assembly approved (the formation of the Royal Government) on 22 August and the time (that I delivered the speech at) the United Nations on 22 September, (I delivered) two different speeches … from two different sides of the earth, but with one goal. On August 22, in Phnom Penh, at the National Assembly, I presented the political platform (of the Royal Government of the seventh legislature) to the National Assembly and the people of the country. Yesterday I delivered the speech to present the policies and activities of the Royal Government of Cambodia, as well as contributions to the United Nations Master Plan for Sustainable Development and other security-related works […]

(3) Three tasks carried out by the RGC at the same time – diplomacy, politics and economy

The three jobs that every head of Government, whether it is Samdech Techo or me, or any other person or country would do at the same time are diplomacy, politics and economy. Firstly, diplomatic work is for us to connect to the outside world and show that Cambodia is a sovereign country. Despite the change of government, Cambodia is still a sovereign state with equal rights and footing with all countries, including the great powers […] in Indonesia, in China and this morning meeting with the UN Secretary-General, none of them considered us illegal government. Cambodia is the sovereign state member of United Nations […] with whoever and whatever country it may be, we sit in the meeting with equal right and footing […]

Secondly, as for political work, we have stated/expressed position to every country that although we are a small country in Asia, we are a full-right member of the United Nations. We have a political position regarding the sovereignty and the national interest of Cambodia, especially our concern on a number of issues related to global security, climate change, war and what are happening in Burma and Ukraine that is affecting the world economy and us […]

Thirdly, economics wise, we are marketing Cambodia. (We) go everywhere to market Cambodia. We have met with the Prime Ministers of China, Japan, the President of the Republic of Korea, and other leaders of ASEAN countries, for the sake of increasing trade relations, and especially exporting our agricultural products. In Indonesia the other day (we have secured the market for) 250,000 tons of rice. Some countries have promised hundreds of thousands more tons. In China the day before, we have brought samples of the products (with us). To say it in general, we are seeking to open market. I am not a rice producer. Our local farmers are. We are finding a market for them […]

(4) Making the economy works for the benefit of the nation and the people

We have negotiated with neighboring countries (such as) with the Philippines to reopen more flights […] this morning, meeting with the Indian Foreign Minister … (we have been discussing on) how to make economic relations work. If more tourists come (to visit Cambodia), who will benefit? It is our people in the tourism industry, tour guides, shop or restaurants owners, hotel owners, big and small, who will get jobs from that. This marketing effort is not for me but for the people. This is the duty of the Royal Government, which Samdech Techo had always done the same. We are doing the same job.

It takes 20 hours by plane to get here and we are doing everything we can in the benefit of the nation and the people […] I have met with some American companies to brief them so that they will decide to take their investments to Cambodia. To enhance political and diplomatic relations, one important point is to connect (relation between) people and people […] (which includes) all sectors, such culture and education, […] and the private sector itself. We have attracted a number of investments from the United States. Previously there are Coca Cola, Tiffany & Co. The Ford Company and a few others have just opened in for business Cambodia. We are working to attract more companies […]

(5) The new government needs concrete results to meet the expectations of the people

Before I left the country for (the United Nations/United States, I chaired) the Cabinet meeting on how to (take) measures (and) set out a mechanism to effectively implement them. We do not do well only on paper. We have to give (obvious) results to the people. We must mete out results as fast as we can. People are waiting. They need us to take care of their life on a regular basis. It is not possible to excuse yourself for being just elected (and asking for) time – three months, for instance […] we need to pay attention to all areas, especially the economy as it is about the people’s livelihood […]

(6) The Royal Government of Cambodia is legitimate and internationally recognized

There have been some reports that accused/questioned this government’s legitimacy (and even predicted that no country would welcome us) coming to (this or that country). You may be wondering as what would be the truth. Let me open a small bracket to explain this issue. People also have right to know whether what we are doing do indeed violate the law? If a government or a leadership that (has) violated the law (and if the law that) we violated (was) the Constitution, what basis do we have to work based on the law? Our diplomacy bases on the principle of independence and on the rule of law. If we ourselves are not legitimate, what thing could we do? […]

(On the) protest that demands the UN to grant no recognition (to the Royal Government). We all are fully aware that I delivered my (speech) yesterday. If the UN did not recognize (the government as legitimate,) they would not let me in. The UNGA convenor even introduced me as the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia on that forum. In light of all this, you can see that the government in Cambodia is legitimate and internationally recognized. Therefore, you all may not have to worry about your country being led by illegal groups […]

(7) Victoria Nuland seeks ways to expand US-Cambodian relations

The more friends we Cambodian have, the merrier it is, right? Their (beliefs and ways of life) is their own. As long as we have many friends […] it means that we open diplomatic relations, people-to-people contact and they know each other. The more friends the Cambodians are making, the better […] I met with Victoria Nuland, Acting Deputy Secretary of State (of the United States of America) and some radio stations broadcast their reports that “the United States called Hun Manet for questioning.” I came to the UNGA. Who would summon the Prime Minister of a sovereign country for questioning? Mrs. Madame (the Acting Deputy Secretary of State of the United States) has come indeed to see me […]

What was the meeting about? We have a lot to discuss, but all in all the main idea is to find a way to expand relations between the United States and Cambodia […] after the election, some people preached that the United States would categorize the election as problematical (which makes the United States) cut (their) 18 million dollars (aid to Cambodia). In the yesterday meeting, she (Mrs. Victoria Nuland) said, “Now there is no need for Cambodia to ask. The United States will return this aid.” We may ask here what kind of political message could this be. Well, those who criticized (and made the above description) could as well understand it […]

(8) Cambodia upholds respect of the Constitution, which prohibits foreign military base on its territory

[…] (The US side) raised the issue of Ream (naval base) […], and those came for the demonstration yesterday also raised the issue of Ream (naval base). I confirmed in (the meeting) – “there is nothing about Ream to hide from anyone. Cambodia still upholds respect of the Constitution, which is to have no foreign military base on Cambodian territory.” I told (the acting US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria) Nuland that […] at the UNGA, I will reaffirm clearly this position (so that there would be no more thoughts of) uncertainty. I will have stated (this position) based on the language (stipulated) in the Constitution that Cambodia allows no foreign military bases on its territory […] I have affirmed already that should there be a desire for foreign (military) bases (in Cambodia), we would have to amend the Constitution. We do not, however, (amend the Constitution) because we do not have the intention to […]

(9) Which law that the Cambodian election is illegal to?

Some say since the elections were illegal, so was the governments. I would emphasize that what we do is in accordance with the Constitution and the election law. That they say the Cambodian election is illegal, (could they specify) it is illegal to what law? The Constitution is the highest law in the Kingdom of Cambodia. We abide by the Constitution. Secondly, there is this election law to vote for members of the National Assembly. The law on the election of members of the National Assembly and the Constitution were not created by the CPP alone, but by many other parties. The election law was made since 2015 […]

Secondly, the most important point is legitimacy. Who gives legitimacy to a government? They are the people who give it. Would the government that was born out of the 2023 election have the legitimacy from the people? The turnout of 8.2 million voters or 84.59% of the 9 million registered voters went to the polls […] it means people exercised their rights as citizens. If the will of 8.2 million people is not the real will, what will then? […] among them, 82.30 percent voted for the CPP. Therefore, the legitimacy is coming from the 82% of the Cambodian registered voters who went to the polls […]

(10) Electing leaders in a democratic system to ensure peace and stability

The selection of leaders in this (democratic) system is the only way that can ensure peace. Our country has changed its government in many ways – from the 1970 coup d’état to the 1975 Khmer Rouge toppling down the Lon Nol regime. In 1979, we formed the army to chase the Khmer Rouge out and the fight went on. Would we want any more of that again? Some have called on the people to rise up, and the armed forces to rise up. Is this patriotism? If there is to be a peaceful and sustainable change, we must allow for the implementation according to the Constitution. Let us compete and vote every 5 years […]

We must not let our country go backwards. We have to adjust the way we compete to serve the people every 5 years. Let the people evaluate who should lead. That method should be the one to use. That would not be different from what they do in the United States, or in any other democratic countries. Every five years, we compete in the election. In the meantime, we compete to serve the people. By competing does not mean to cause trouble so that the government could not lead, and (the opposition give the government the) blame. Doing this would not be good for the country […]

(11) No bank withdrawals before the 2023 election confirms people’s confidence

The fact that 6.4 million people voted for the Cambodian People’s Party means that they are satisfied with the leadership of the Royal Government, especially Samdech Techo, in serving his (people) in the (past) term. Even during the Covid-19, especially in the most difficult period, the Royal Government of Samdech Techo won the people’s belief that Samdech Techo did not run away from the people. Samdech Techo spent his physical and mental strength to lead and direct orders to solve and protect the lives of the people and to make the people’s lives better. The election result of 2023 clearly confirmed that […]

After the 2023 election, […] the National Bank reported that the election of that year was different from those previous elections. (In all cases of) previous elections, before or near to the election, people withdrew money from the bank and took it home. This year, no one withdrew it. They keep it in the bank because they expect (the country to be in) stability. Every previous mandate, people waited to see what would happen after they cast their votes, lest there be a demonstration. This time, right after the election, people immediately went off to Kampong Som making the road congested. Everyone dares to leave home because s/he knows that nothing bad would happen […]

(12) People believe in the succession plan that new team together together with the 6th term team continue to lead the country

[…] When two candidates were in nomination, the election result for the CPP increased to 82.30% and the number of voters increased from 5.4 million to 6.4 million. Up to 1 million votes. This means that while the people are having trust in the leadership of the Cambodian People’s Party and Samdech Techo as its leader, the people also have confidence in the party’s succession plan […] so that the new group can join the 6th legislative term Royal Government to lead the country together. That is why we have the transfer of power from the beginning of the term […]

At the ASEAN Summit, there was a chance for us three – Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, stood to my right, and President Marcos of the Philippines stood to my left – to take a snapshot together. It is a coincidence that someone got us the shot. Should anyone talk about dynasty leader in a country, the three of us are same. All three have fathers who used to be president and prime ministers, but these three came to power through elections. People vote according to the law. All have internal support of the party to stand and the people have voted. So, (we three are elected) in a democratic way […]

(13) Pentagonal strategy adds technology/digital as its angle

(The previous) rectangular (strategy) based on four corners and (set to be implemented) in 4 terms or 20 years (already). Before that, we had a triangular (strategy), which is a 15-year action plan. Then we add another corner/angle to the rectangular strategy, which we now call it – Pentagonal Strategy or the 25 years plan […] why 25 years? It is to ensure the goal of making Cambodia a high-income country by 2050. From 2023 to 2048 is 25 years, or near to 2050 to reach the goal. It is not that we are making empty speech about making Cambodia high-income country by 2050 but we have a clear action plan […]

(We strategize) this pentagonal plan (by) adding the fifth corner to deal with digital era and development. Every country has taken steps towards technology. If we do not walk on time, we cannot compete. That is why we set this fifth angle, focusing on developing human training infrastructure and preparing to drive the digital economy, helping our economy to compete successfully […]

The Royal Government led by the CPP for 44 years based on principles of considering the national interest first. We will go on with that. What is a nation? It is the territory and people. If the people are not strong, it will be difficult for us to defend our economy, sovereignty and independence. We cannot depend on anyone to live. We must rely on ourselves to live. Khmer must depend on Khmer, Khmer must help Khmer, Khmer trusts Khmer, and then Khmer will be strong. Our friends have obligations for their people, their land, and we do to ours as well […]

The (pentagonal strategy) – phase i has five mottos – employment growth, equity, efficiency and sustainability\ […] our goal (is to achieve) 7% annual growth. A decade ago, before Covid-19 broke out, our economy grew by 7% per annum […] and we now have only 17 million people. Very small in number. The day before, there was a calculation that by 2050, our country could become an aging population country. That means there will be more old-age population than younger ones. I have requested a review. If it is the case, we may have to recommend our people to have more children from now, because by 2050, they would no longer want to have children. The cost-of-living standard will be high […]

(14) Create/increase jobs and poverty reduction directly related to the people

We return to our strategic goals, which firstly to realize economic growth of 7%; secondly to increase employment in both quantity and quality […], thirdly, to reduce poverty; fourthly, to strengthen work efficiency; and fifthly, to ensure sustainability, through building and developing the national society […]

Important tasks and attention that we must focus are two main points – increasing employment and reducing poverty. The issue of economic growth, of strengthening internal reform, of development is all about making policy. Increasing the work in terms of quantity and quality, and poverty reduction affects the people directly […] what does the new government do related to the two points?

Firstly, about the main point of job creation. To create/increase jobs, we need to think about quantity and quality. What about quantity? We need to promote job creation in all sectors and everywhere for our people. We will do that not only in Phnom Penh, but also in the provinces […] we build roads and wire electricity so that we can attract investors to create jobs for the people […] not just the garment industry or tourism but all sectors […]

I have issued a principle so that nutrition will reach the kindergarten. We speed setting up kindergartens for (children) of factory workers and provide them with nutritional food. We have taken consideration on their health from birth. Female civil servants and workers, once get pregnant, the government issues them allowances for children […]

The (work) quality of the Cambodian workers has improved. The quality increases. It means that when the productivity is high, the salary also increases […] (related to the issue of) job creation, in 1997, we had only 64 factories in Phnom Penh, and only 82,000 workers. In 2023, we have 17,251 factories/enterprises, in which there are 1,500,000 jobs. We have counted in all factories/enterprises including the garment sector […] the garment sector has 1,332 factories, and 830,000 workers. They are in is expanding […]

(15) Expand jobs availability in the country but do not close chance for works abroad

We need to make more efforts to provide (our workers more jobs) abroad. Some say that the policy of the Cambodian government pushes only the people to work as servants in other countries. The issue of workers going abroad happens in every country. In fact, the world is approaching that trend. They try to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement so that there will be free movement of goods and people […] we are creating jobs everywhere. Of course, we strive to create more jobs in the country, and make jobs available further to the grassroots. We try to move the agricultural sector into gro-industry, create farmers’ communities, […] but we do not block the rights of our people to go abroad (for works) […]

(16) Quality of work, increase salaries and provide benefits under the labor law

As far as job is concerned, we are talking about quality. We are not going to increase the number of jobs without taking into consideration the quality. Regarding the quality of job, firstly, we must make sure they have a decent salary. We have negotiated for an increase of the minimum wage. The minimum wage in our garment sector is US$ 200 […] and secondly, we must ensure provision of benefits to our people, not just a net salary. We are making sure they get benefits such as travel, environment, food, in accordance with the labor laws […]

We now have the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), or we can call it an insurance policy for workers working in any particular place. In the past, workers had to make their counterpart contributions. Now the state has taken care of it for them, plus the parts covered by employers, company owners, […]

Previously, the state only over for the worker as an individual. Now, we think of his family and his children. For family members, they must be volunteering. How to volunteer? For example, it is not possible for an employee to issue insurance for 10 people. If s/he has five children, s/he has to volunteer to pay 15,600 riel or nearly US$ 4 per person per month. For only US$ 4, s/he can go for free health care any number of times […]

We think about the health of both pregnant women and babies […] the environment in the canteen how to meet her health standards. We also take care of pensions. Before, we did not have a pension. When they finished the job, it is over […] when s/he works we keep tracking her/his seniority so that after leaving the jobs, s/he has a pension […]

We allow workers to have their unions […] we have thousands of unions serving the people, representing our workers everywhere […] even salary negotiations, union representatives come to negotiate for benefits. Thus, the rights and freedoms are guaranteed and promoted […] should there be a problem, let us solve it together. Do not let it catch fire. We solve problems so that our labor sector is cool and harmonious, and attracting more investors […]

(17) Poverty decreased from 54/100 in 1997 to 17/100 today

The second point I am making is related to poverty reduction […] it is with great pride that we ended the war in 1998 (when) […] out of 100 people, 54 lived below the poverty line. By 2017, the poverty rate decreased from 54% to 9.4%. Due to Covid-19, it has picked up slightly to 17% […] before Covid-19, some people got up (above of the poverty line) […] because of Covid-19, we recognized that there have been some impacts […] we now have 17 (out of 100) below the poverty line. Apart from this, they have either prosperous or average life […]

We admitted that the world economy has slowed down, and in some places, there have been up and down. In America, there is no permanent economic growth too, right? They have up and down too. Property market sometimes goes up sometimes goes down. That is normal. It is the free market. However, the most important thing is to look at the whole forest, not a single tree […] reducing poverty is how to make sure our middle class grow bigger and stronger […] we still have a lot of work to do […]

(18) Poor ID card for the most vulnerable and poor to receive assistances

(I have) talked about the rich, the average, what about the poor? […] in a free (market economy) competition there is going to be winners and losers. Even restaurant owners – there are those who do business profitably and those who failed […] not every lawyer graduated in the United States has a job […] the Ministry of Planning assesses people, who is a particular village, are the poorest (and have) to have a poor ID card. If you have a card, you do not have to pay for medical treatment. The state will cover it for you. Along with that, s/he also has access to some benefits that we provided. When there is a problem, the Red Cross and the government step in and help […]

(19) Low income tax revenue and continue to tax no farmland

If the country adheres to socialism as before, the state must cover everything. However, the people would not have any private. Everything belongs to the state. The state will distribute the benefits. We are a free market economy. People have the right and freedom, the private sector has the right to compete […] income tax from the salaries of our people is still very small […] almost non-existent because we always raise the tax ceiling. For example, a worker who earns a minimum wage of US$ 150, the state raised the taxing ceiling higher so that s/he does not have to pay (tax on her/his incomes) […]

(20) The six programs of the new government

For the poor, we have six equity policies of the new government […] to be implementing in 2023, without waiting until 2024. On September 20, I have led the Cabinet meeting to listen to a practical plan to bring it into action […]

Program1 is the provision of health care towards a global coverage program. There are two goals. The first goal is to provide health care services to more than 400,000 vulnerable families, equivalent to 1.5 million people. We use the equity fund. It means that 1.5 million poor and vulnerable people can have treatments at the state’s expenses […] the second goal is to increase further voluntarily […] we are thinking of her/his family. Due to the small size of our state budget, we anticipate her/his contribution. S/he pays 15,600 riel or USD 4 per month, her/his family members can have treatment free of charge – no matter how many times they needed to. It is a health insurance […] and (this coverage) extends the voluntary policy to three million people […]

Program2 is vocational and technical training for young people from poor and vulnerable families across the country. Children of poor people, poor living conditions, who sometimes are unable or unaffordable to go to school, we plan to provide this scholarship to 1.5 million people […] not only for vocational training so that they can find job later but the state also pays them each US$ 70, equal to 280 thousand Riel (as their living expenses) […]

Program3 is to institutionalize the national program […] making this program and system more efficient and sustainable. Program4 is to develop and promote the implementation of informal economic sector development strategy so that they participate in the system and benefit from the social protection benefits. Those who are employing in the informal sector or self-employed, for example, a motodup driver, a cane juice seller, a cart driver, those who run own business or a noodle shop with four or five employees. We have to help them. We do not only help those who work in big companies with hundreds or thousands of employees […]

Program5 facilitates financing schemes aimed at promoting agricultural products, finding markets, and balancing agricultural yields at a reasonable level. I am talking about marketing, mostly for our agricultural products. We have prepared a budget of US$ 100 million, with additional fund allowance if needed, to intervene in time to ensure, at a level or any given time, intervention to help with the price of agricultural produces/products […]

Program6 is another work related to agriculture that we deploy agricultural technical officials to all communes with needs of agricultural expertise, to offer technical help for farming modernization. In the past, the state done some of that job but there had not been sufficient number of technicians. Samdech Techo approved this effort since the previous term. We will start from now until the end of the year recruiting 250 people, and in 2024, we will recruit more and send them to the grassroots […] to help provide skills to farmers to grow crops and to raise animals […]

(21) Five priority measures

The five priority measures […] linked to the pentagonal strategy are […] measure 1 is about public administration reform. (In this measure, firstly, we) make sure that the selection of our officials is transparent, fair, and merit-based […] (and) secondly, make effective and efficient use of the existing officials in the institution […] and thirdly, strengthen the system of motivating officials to serve the people. We have done a lot so far. The capacity of our officials has increased a lot in the last 20-30 years […] we strive to strengthen further […]

Measure 2 is to focus on strengthening education. Principles of education reform is a long-term plan. In this term, we focus on strengthening kindergarten through to 12th grade, making education not only about teaching people to be literate, but combined with virtue, morality and good behavior as they are our resource […]

Measure 3 is about health. I am pointing to sharpening capability of health centers in the communes and referral hospitals in district level. At the national level, we have introduced policy to strengthen already. The special key concerning our measures dealing with education, public functions and health is to set up a committee headed by the Prime Minister […] each health center in commune is directly in contact with the people. We need to strengthen their quality […]

Measure 4 is to pay attention to strengthening safe villages, communes, especially the fight against drugs in Cambodia […] I have just reorganized the preparation for the establishment of National Drug Combatting Authority […]. I have handed the job over to a Deputy Prime Minister to lead in the mechanism, where there are four Deputy Prime Ministers […] signifying value and weight in the fight against drugs. It is complicated. It takes time. It is a commitment that we will address […]

Measure 5 relates to the legal system or the judiciary. This mechanism is designed for the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice to lead the judicial reform so that the justice system can be more efficient to serve the people […]

(22) RGC to ensure peace, stability, war and division prevention, and to expand achievements, and protect the rights and freedoms of the people

[…] As I am meeting with granduncles, uncles, aunts, brothers and sisters today, I wish to reaffirm the commitment of the new Royal Government (firstly) to ensure that peace and stability will not disappear, especially the country is not going to war or division again […] 500 years of division ended by a win-win policy. We must maintain (peace and stability) […] and (secondly) to expand more achievements for the people, especially to provide and protect their lives, rights, freedoms and dignity […] that is the spirit of nationalism […]

To continue to be successful and to provide opportunities (from the people) and to continue to serve the people, we must come up with tangible results, not populist policies. Absolutely we do not lie to our people about how much we can do […] this makes people trust us and are willing to have one bird in hand instead of waiting for 20 birds in the forest […]

My commitments are firstly to continue the achievements the Cambodian People’s Party has scored so far, to destroy nothing that the CPP leaders have sacrificed for 40 years to achieve, to lose no peace, to let the country to no war or to go backwards. We are maintaining and striving to further achievements of the nation and its people […] The Royal Government led by this new team […] has only one will and the same commitment. The policy that I am talking about is for all people, especially for the poor people is the main goal. This government, like the previous (CPP) governments, does not harm the people or destroy the people or the nation. We do not brag that we have no weaknesses or we are perfect, but we have proved that we have the intention and will to make ourselves perfect, which means that we will strive to correct every mistake and shortcomings […]./.