More joint efforts needed for Cambodia’s social development to progress after Covid-19

Covid-19 has hurt us tremendously for two years in various ways, including mental health and social development, but the Royal Government of Cambodia, under the leadership of Prime Minister Hun Sen, has seen the country overcome these difficulties and now many areas are back to normal. It forces people to stick to health protection measures; i.e. wearing masks, keeping social distance and washing hands, among others.

Covid-19 has so far claimed nearly 3,000 lives in Cambodia, citizens and foreigners, out of nearly 120,000 cases in the past two years since the disease hit the country.

So far, 88%, or more than 14 million people out of an estimated total population of 16 million, have received Covid-19 vaccines.

Cambodia’s vaccination campaign made it the first in Asia and the 5th globally.

New Covid-19 cases are below 50, the prime minister said. However, he asks the population to continue to behave well by protecting themselves.

“We are reopening the country to all areas right now and we will not go back to the good old days,” he said. From now on, when we detect new cases of Covid-19, we will only take them for treatment and maintain normal business routines, he explained.

More than $2.3 billion, of the $3.5 billion saved before COVID-19, was spent fighting the disease. Almost all sectors have been hit hard – with the exception of agriculture, which has seen the country’s growth drop from 2.4 to 2.8% in 2021. The Prime Minister expects a rise of 3 % for 2021.

He also said that there were 1.1 million local tourists nationwide last week and there will be more local tourists to come.

Cambodia will harvest 111% of the usual harvest this season… fingers crossed. “Our crops are in good shape this year,” the prime minister told Thbong Khmum on Tuesday at the opening of the new Cambodia-China Friendship Bridge province that spans the Mekong River.

The ceremonies were attended by Chinese Ambassador Wang Wentian, dignitaries and citizens. The bridge cost around $60 million. The bridge is 13.5 meters wide and 1,131 meters long.

With positive signs of recovery, Cambodia expects growth of around 5% for next year, Prime Minister Hun Sen said.

Talking is easy, but doing is hard. However, Cambodian leaders are doing their best; Of course, running the country is not a bed of roses.

With many of Cambodia’s policies, from trade to investment, industrial policy to economic diplomacy, aimed at serving the interests of the nation and its people; the question is to what extent Cambodia is able to achieve this goal. It hangs before us: how to unite for the common good and build our nation for generations to come.

The prime minister’s priority of developing the nation with his words on human needs, roads, water and electricity continued to be high priority in the government’s policy platform. At the same time, the fight against corruption and the implementation of reforms are at the heart of the government’s action plan.

The development of Cambodia in all fields is not only the result of the efforts of the country and its people, but also with the help of development partners for mutual benefit.

Moreover, these achievements have been facilitated by the smart policies of the Royal Government of Cambodia. Friendly policies towards all peoples and countries in all corners of the world are indispensable.

We live in an interconnected world, each making different products and complementing each other’s capabilities. Cambodia exports rice and manufactured products at the same time as the country imports petroleum products and technological devices. Cambodia has rice and surplus labor, foreigners have investment funds.

By January 1, 2022, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership [RCEP] will come into force, the Prime Minister said.

RCEP is a free trade agreement between the Asia-Pacific countries of Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

In addition, the free trade agreement with China and South Korea will enable Cambodia to boost bilateral trade and investment, the prime minister explained.

Although some work is suspended, investment in Cambodia’s industrial sector remains strong.

Cambodia does not and will not discriminate in investment and assistance.

“No country in the world is free from Covid-19,” the prime minister said.

There have been 256,966,237 confirmed cases of Covid-19 worldwide, including 5,151,643 deaths.

“I visited China and encouraged Cambodian students to stay and continue their studies in China. I even received the American cruise ship MS Westerdam after it was rejected by the United States itself when it sailed to the island of Guam. The Prime Minister received on Valentine’s Day, 14and February 2020 the cruise ship, which carried more than 2000 passengers, with full hearts. This decision has been widely described as a small Cambodia with a big heart.

Although Covid-19 has damaged the value of Khmer culture by banning hugging and kissing, life must go on.

“As long as the people vote for me, I will continue to stay in power.” The 70-year-old prime minister reaffirmed his position, adding that “I will stay in power and pave the way before the younger generation can take office.”

Cambodia’s bad past experience in the 1970s educated the country enough to understand that this must not happen again.

“Some democratic and Western countries did not express regret over the coup that toppled Prince Norodom Sihanouk from power in 1970, they even supported the Khmer Rouge to occupy the UN headquarters in Cambodia for 12 years,” he recalled.

The Prime Minister pledged to counter any international pressure. At the same time, Cambodia continues to work with the international community for mutual interests with Cambodia, as well as respect for Cambodia’s sovereignty.

Prime Minister Hun Sen hopes foreign ministers from ASEAN and G7 countries will provide bridge-building assistance to Cambodia.

“We welcome everyone, including Building Back Better (BBB),” he said.

BBB is a strategy to reduce risk to people in nations and communities from future disasters and shocks.

China has just announced another new $1.5 billion development package for ASEAN of which Cambodia will receive part.

“We invite everyone to participate in Cambodia’s development process, not only from China alone but also from others.”

Ek Tha is the Permanent Deputy Chairman of the Royal Government Spokesperson’s Unit, Advisor to the Ministry of Information, Spokesperson for the Cabinet Office

  • Keywords: COVID-19 in Cambodia, social development

Joel C. Hicks