Opinion: Cambodia’s Flag Flies Proud Despite Hits by Covid-19

AKP Phnom Penh, October 09, 2020 —

Strong leadership has been tested around the world as so many countries suffer under the devastating impact of the deadly Covid-19. Its effects go beyond the challenge of controlling the spread of the disease itself but also its assault on economic, social and even cultural factors, and doing so while preserving human dignities and freedoms. Compared to many countries this small Southeast Asian nation has performed extraordinarily well.

In Cambodia, many economic sectors vital to the national well-being, such as garments and agriculture, continue to stand firm while a few other areas, for instance tourism, have faded. But, Cambodians still smile, join hands and stand by the Prime Minister Hun Sen as he has navigated the ship of State to overcome this stormy period since early this year.

Covid-19 has brutal exposed the weakness of many so-called strong leaders around the world, marked by protests and riots and public calls for resignation. Not so Cambodia.

The country, her 16 million populations, and investment keep moving although their days as not as good as before Covid-19 landed on this beautiful earth. No one has a lost life to the disease although 282, including the five still hospitalised, contracted the virus, as of Oct. 9, 2020, thanks to the government’s management in taking appropriate measures to cope with the deadly virus, along with participation by the people and technical and financial supports from friends near and far.

Cambodia’s PM Hun Sen, who has been in power since the fall of Khmer Rouge in 1979, works day and night with little time to say “hi” in person. He always makes sure that his electronic devices are with him through which he thoughtfully guides government operations to stay on the right course for the interest of the country, her people, and investors alike.

One should learn and remember by heart that, Cambodia would have been today without the hard-earned peace, the result of the win-win policy championed by PM Hun Sen who put an end to the military and political movement of Khmer Rouge and its notorious killing fields in late 1998.

The Prime Minister recalled those times as he inaugurated the China’s newly-built US$85 million investment resort of Prince Manor on 13 hectares of land on the outskirts of Phnom Penh on 7th Oct. this year. He highlighted the fact that peace is the pillar, followed by other factors, such as the government development plan, among others.

“You cannot just get out of your house to take a vacation if the country is still at war, you will get shot,” said the Premier, recalling the dark past of the country went through over nearly 30 years until 1998.

That was confirmed by the representative of Prince Group Holding Ltd, which consists of 30 companies, who told the crowd that the company could not develop its projects without Prime Minister’s and the government’s support.

As the current status of the Covid-19 crisis continues to hit the global economy, Cambodia under PM’s leader has adapted to deal with new approaches needed and that is to improve agriculture production for more than just domestic supplies but also for exports; while tourism is slow.

“Agriculture is still playing an important role in social and economic development,” the Premier stressed.

At the same time, the government looks to invest multi-millions U.S. dollars in developing greater physical infrastructure, mainly roads in Siem Reap, the home of Angkor, as well as in the coastal provinces of Kampot, Preah Sihanouk, and others and through which the projects will also benefit the local people as construction workers.

No mega construction sites have been suspended despite the country’s economy being hit by the Covid-19, said the Prime Minister.

The government, however, did not forget the unemployed, who worked in sectors of tourism and industry hit by the Covid-19. These get partial payment support from the government and companies with a total of US$70 a month, and they can go to work with their parents who are farmers.

“I thank the private sector for contributing partial payments along with the government to sustain our society… I keep talking about the greater role of the private sector,” he said.

“The Covid-19 can hurt us but cannot kill us. Cambodia’s people economic status/ incomes are still in good shape,” said the Prime Minister.

In August, PM Hun Sen inaugurated the US$44 million international standard Garden City Water Park in the North of Phnom Penh.

“I thank all companies, in partnership with the government, are playing key roles in maintaining the status quo for local jobs and exports. Should all companies have closed in Cambodia, it would have created a big problem for social status, but they did not.”

“Before the international financial institutions, such as World Bank and Asian Development Bank, predicted far negative about Cambodia’s growth, they now have now reviewed and predicted GDP growth similar to ours. They predicted -2 per cent now, we said -1.9 per cent growth for this year. We keep standing on our own,” he said as he called upon his country’s people to join hands with the government and private sector to keep moving to develop this nation, which devastated to ground zero after the Khmer Rouge was toppled on Jan. 7, 1979 by the Vietnam’s forces supported Cambodia’s forces led by then Mr. Hun Sen.

Painful thought those day were, the result is a strong people with a strong leadership that has proven itself in this most trying of times.

By Ek Tha

Spokesman of the Council of Ministers,

Advisor to the Ministry of Information,

Standing-Vice Chairman of the Royal Government Spokesperson Unit