Selected Comments Samdech Moha Bovor Thipadei Hun Manet, at the meeting with the leaders of professional organizations on the occasion of the 138th anniversary of International Labor Day, May 1, 2024 [Unofficial translation]

CMF: 28/04/2024

(1) The 138th May 1 – International Labor Day – meeting is inferring care, appreciation and gratitude to the workers and staff

I would like to thank the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training for organizing the 138th International Labor Day – May 1, […] This gathering is a demonstration of the Royal Government’s continued attention and concern in recognition and gratitude to all workers and staff, including employers, all employees involved in all levels of the government and other labor sector […] Today’s topic – “an enterprise is a peaceful community” […] means (we are building) a happy family. The Royal Government has set the main goal of creating jobs, which is a big priority to promote a sustainable and inclusive economy. The national economy works because the people and the living standards of each family are improved […]

(6) “Keep the old, foster new” approach to create market opportunities and enhance competitiveness

The policy of the Royal Government of the seventh legislative term is to continue to encourage and attract more for the private sector to grow […] so that the people have the right to freedom, opportunities and markets, to help promote the competitiveness of the Cambodian people, as well as their standard of living. We need to carry out this work more effectively […] We are applying the “keep the old, foster new” approach to include (every entity) in the private sector – including enterprises and factories in the industry […] The principle of keeping the old is to keep existing enterprises, investors, private companies – even our people who are in the informal economy, who have not yet registered with the Ministry of Labor – so that they have more ability to ensure everlasting and sustainable success […]

(3) Existing enterprises/companies are birds in hand, maintaining economy, and channel to spread information

Why do we keep the old (existing enterprises, investors, private companies)? (Firstly,) in simple words, there has been a saying that goes five birds in hand is better than 20 in the bush […]; secondly, not only new companies and/or enterprises that create jobs and increase the economy. The existing enterprises, investors, private companies have also been successful in maintaining the economy. They have been succeeding and increasing their incomes, and raising salaries of their employees […]; and thirdly, they are the most effective means to reach target groups […] their whisperings are (effective) […]

(4) Keeping the peace, maintain macroeconomy, ensure key resources, and policies to encourage domestic and foreign investments

(At the same time, we must create) a successful environment for both old and new. Firstly, we must ensure that we are not losing the peaceful environment. Secondly, we must maintain macroeconomic stability. If we do not maintain macroeconomics, there (will be impacts) involving investors […] Without macroeconomic stability, we cannot guarantee existing successful investments […]; Thirdly, ensure key resources include people, water, roads, electricity, and technology […]; and fourthly, the introduction of the Royal Government’s favorable policies necessary to encourage domestic and foreign investment […]

(5) Sometimes labor law has not been implemented properly

In the field of labor, we have labor laws, that stipulate the rights of workers, employers, but sometimes they are not properly implemented, therefore causing problems. We need to have a monitoring mechanism of the Ministry (of labor) […] one may ask for what does the state (develop the social assistance policy)? This is a policy (developed) not only to attract new investment and create jobs, but to care about the health and capabilities of our people […]

(6) Enrolling formal and informal economies workers for vocational training and carry through cash support program for women with pregnancy and children

I am encouraging our workers in both the formal and informal economies, especially those in the informal system, to continue to enroll in vocational training at vocational training institutions administered by the Ministry (of Labor and Vocational Training). As of April 19, there are 34,000 registered students, of which more than 16,000 are enrolled and receiving technical degree training […]

We continue to sustain, optimize, and provide cash support programs for women with pregnancy, during delivery and postpartum, and for the child until s/he reaches two years old […] We continue to carry through this program. Cash support before childbirth, after childbirth, until the kid is up to two years old, the mother will receive maternity allowance 14 times, and each time she receives 80,000 Riels – all inn the purpose of improving maternal and child health […]

(7) Human capital is about health, knowledge and ability

Some say that the government issues social programs that are not profitable […] I think there are direct and indirect effects (from these programs) […] one important resource for production is human. Talking about human capital is talking about health, knowledge, and ability. If we do not invest in the nutrition of the baby, in the health of women with pregnancy, in the unborn baby, what do we invest in? Children born with poor health are the responsibility of the state. The state must take care of their health, we cannot leave them unattended. On the other hand, if they are born healthy, they will not be the burden and they will be more productive for the state […]

Ensure attractiveness and help people and the private sector to be the national assistance in creating jobs and boosting successful economy. Helping people to have knowledge and good health to make the work sector become a happy family, a peaceful enterprise community, […]

(8) Establishing nurseries and kindergartens, resolving disputes through arbitration council

The Royal Government pays attention on (the request for) competition in establishing community nurseries and kindergartens in this peaceful enterprise community. I have given instructions to the Ministry of Labor (and Vocational Training) and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs […] the Royal Government must help, in its capacity as a guardian, resolve disputes or facilitate the resolution of disputes to maintain harmony regarding labor. I commend the Ministry of Labor (and Vocational Training), the local authorities, all related mechanisms for making efforts to resolve disputes […]

The rate of resolving labor disputes at the ministry level reached 84% in the first quarter, compared to 76% in the same period in 2023. This is progress. This means that all side have had increasing confidence and maturity in resolving disputes […] The government will continue to support the work of the Arbitration Council, a tripartite mechanism, and other mechanisms, for resolving labor disputes […]

(9) Unions and professional organizations nearly doubled between 2016 and 2024

We continue to promote the freedom of professional organizations […] I am calling all concerned to look at the whole forest, not only one or two trees. Take a look at the situation of all unions and professional organizations in Cambodia who have been obliged to represent their respective parties. There are more than 6,300 associations and/or unions at all levels in 2024, compared to 3,600 in 2016, an increase of nearly double. That means we have been open to this freedom in the past eight years […]

The Royal Government will be with you(workers/employees) to help make your family more successful. The more successful your family, the more successful Cambodia will be. Our society is made up of individual families, the cells of the nation. In this sense, helping the nation to be strong is making each family strong. Starting from harmonization, not having disputes, with better life, health and capacity, we are more prosperous in that sense. Our country is more capable of living on its own, breathing on its own, ensuring Cambodia’s sovereignty is stronger in the future […] and in the next five years, I will try to make another two rounds of meeting with our workers/employees […]

(10) Funan Techo canal is not for the Hun family, but Cambodia’s legitimate rights

I would like to thank His Excellency the Minister (of Labor and Vocational Training), as well as the Cambodian people all over the country, for issuing strong messages of support regarding the Funan-Techo Canal project […] for which, on the 26th (April), Samdech Techo has spoken clearly on this work. It is not in the interest of the Hun family. The Hun family is just involved in helping with the development of the initiative. Samdech Techo initiated this. I will continue to make this project come to life for our people. I am not the one who created it. It is the creation of our people, our civil servants, after working so hard to study in detail over the years […]

There has been a lot of analysis and endless discussion by some foreign newspapers about how this project will affect the environment and the political geography? I keep wondering. Why Cambodia is so special. Other countries along the Mekong River had built canals, dams, hydropower, etc. and no one seems to be interested. Just as Cambodia builds a canal on a tributary (of the river), they wanted us to be called in for questioning. Some in the newspapers suggested that Cambodia must answer this person or that person. No. Cambodia has legitimate rights to do for the benefit of Cambodia. Analysts in Vietnam, and some even published in the American and/or Singapore newspapers expressing concerns that the canal could harm the environment. The question is, does Cambodia not care about itself? (If there is an impact,) the first to bear the impact is no one else but the Cambodians – more than 3 million people in the southwest, more than 1 million people along the canal, […]

What benefit would it be for Samdech Techo or myself as leaders to be responsible for history if we build this canal to harm our national interest? Once we finished, we cannot delete it. It is going to be a proof. If we are not sure (of its benefit to the country and people), to declare the construction of this canal was nothing less than providing the evidence for everyone to curse us. Deputy Prime Minister His Excellency Sun Chanthol, before submitting the request to Samdech Techo, has studied very carefully because he was responsible for leading the project […]

(11) Allow no country to use Cambodia as a base to attack other countries

[…] Some people interpret that the (Funan-Techo canal) project is not in the interest of Cambodia, but for China to bring in ships to threaten Vietnam and the region […] (Let me affirm that) Cambodia adheres with respect the Constitution. We do not allow foreigners to set up military bases on our territory, and we do not allow Cambodia to be used by any country as a base to attack other countries […] (It was because of) going for military fights that the country fell into the conflict of the superpowers […] leading to the country’s heinous destruction. Cambodia will not cross that road anymore. Cambodia has no policy of taking anyone as an enemy. We make friend with everyone. We respect each other, we pursue independent diplomatic policies based on the law and uphold the national interest as a whole […] We have weighed, and adhered to the law, especially the Constitution […]

Cambodia is already implementing the law. The 1995 Mekong Agreement does not require (reporting), especially when the project is to sit on the tributaries. In some countries, they built hydropower on five or six tributaries. There is no obligation to report. Cambodia has informed this to the Mekong Committee responsibly […] The project is a B.O.T – a private loan project, and the state has borrowed nothing […]; Secondly, this canal benefit is to serve our economy. The Cambodian people in the whole country recognize so […] Earlier this month, two Vietnamese analysts at an institute claimed that it was for serving the interests of the Chinese military. In parallel, Sam Rainsy himself supports what the Vietnamese said against the Cambodian interests. Does he love the Khmer nation or oppose the Khmer nation? Let him be clear. He insulted me and I responded. My answer is in defense of the Royal Government, our officials who have worked hard for decades to protect the interests and the opinion of the people who support this canal to be built in the national interest […]

(12) The Funan-Techo canal will save both distance, time, cost and ease of procedure

I would send a message to the old-timer politician Sam Rainsy, who is posing as an economist, by asking him whether Cambodia will gain or lose once the canal is in operation? At present, once crossing the border to the sea, we have to spend a lot of time and procedure (on the Vietnamese side) […] (therefore,) building this canal is (comparable) to building bridges, waterways from the sea to our rivers for our transportation, for agricultural products, for other products as well, and reducing shipping costs and time to help our economy […]

Every day we ship to Vietnam’s international port. Is it a gain or a loss? On the 6th (of June), I will inaugurate (the Kampot Port). Which is more profitable? Even the people clearly understand how this works. Once again, I send this message to the old-timer politician who claims to have economic knowledge, to please explain how does his opposition uphold the national interest as a whole? He should not just do everything only in the meaning to oppose all the time and every topic. The project is for the benefit of the people. Why would he oppose and cause division, while we should gather to support the national interest to get this canal built […]

(He should) think about what you can do together and do not bother about who does what. Do not be afraid of Samdech Techo getting credit, or me, or the Royal Government getting credit. Let us just think that from that achievement, the benefit will be for all of us to move forward. We will strengthen (development in) the southwest of our country, strengthen our sea area, strengthen our border area, and make our country stronger […]

(13) National spirit and support bigger than the USD 10 billion needed

I have been asked about if there is a need to set up a fund for which people can contribute. I would confirm that at this stage, we do not have the need for our people to contribute any money. We have been considering a guaranteed financial plan for years. We welcome this national spirit and support. This is a very big force. Bigger than the USD 10 billion needed. Our home is peaceful, our home is harmonious, and we work together to build new achievements for ourselves and our children. This is a great nationalist force that unites for the national interest, for national independence, and ownership, for decades to come […] there is no need to set up a fund or raise any money […] whether or not there is any participation in foreign investment, Cambodia must make this project irreversible. We have already prepared three scenarios […] and I hope that we will launch the construction site in 2024 or at the latest by 2025 […]

(14) Continue to build great historical achievements on the territory of Angkor

There are many historical achievements that we have made in the previous terms and will continue to do so in this term. For this term, we have inaugurated the international airport in Siem Reap. In 2025, we will inaugurate another historical one in Phnom Penh. The Funan-Techo canal will be another achievement. Ae built last year the first expressway in history and will continue to build more. A lot of historical projects have to go on. From ancient times, our ancestors built the towers of Angkor Wat to be a shrine and a demonstration of Cambodia’s potential.

The descendants of Cambodia will continue to work together to build more great historical achievements on our Angkor territory, especially the Funan-Techo Canal. I tell you all, we can build 10 or 20 highways, 5 or 6 airports, but we only build one canal in our country, from the river to the sea, […] This nationalist spirit is very big. Rightly oriented, the nationalist spirit can do great work. Wrongly oriented, we would be in danger. Some take the spirit of nationalism as a cause of quarrelling and coloring each other. We must unite the nationalist spirit to jointly build common achievements, as at the same time, to build this Funan-Techo canal, we anticipate supports of Cambodian of all trends […]./.