Dr. Dereje Wordofa, President of SOS Children’s Villages
Samdech, Excellencies, Ladies and Compatriots
Inauguration of the Seventh SOS Children’s Village in Prey Veng Province
Today we are happy to have witnessed a strong partnership between the Royal Government of Cambodia and SOS Children’s Village. We inaugurated the SOS Children’s Village in Prey Veng, the seventh village, after what we started the first one in Phnom Penh in 2002. HE Vong Soth already made a relevant report and Dr. Dereje Wordofa, President of SOS Children’s Villages, talked about the work here as well as in Children’s Village elsewhere. I will never forget the partnership we built together, starting with the SOS Children’s Village in Phnom Penh in 2002, launched by me and retired President Helmut Kutin […]
I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Samdech Krala Hom Sar Kheng for providing land for the construction of the children’s village here in Prey Veng city, which is part of effort to help children to settle in the community under the good care of teachers, and all the mothers working here. I am thankful for the continued attention of the President, who today inaugurated the village together and this evening we will meet and discuss together […] earlier, we planned to discuss on March 14th, but due to the previous few days’ (busy work program), yesterday I was in Sihanoukville, we rescheduled it. This week’s program is very busy. On the coming Sunday, there will be the visit of the Japanese Prime Minister to Cambodia. We did not postpone the inauguration […] and this evening we will meet at the Peace Palace, to continue discussing and it seems that the Children’s Village have plan to go to Tbong Khmum […]
A Lot Done for Children Left Behind by the Pol Pot Genocidal Regime
There is a lot of work that Cambodia has done for children […] Cambodia has the highest number of child victims left behind by Pol Pot’s genocidal regime. We had the responsibility to look after children left parentless by Pol Pot. Since 1979, with other leaders, I still remember having been involved in governing the country where we placed our priority at the time, all the provinces, not in setting up the governor’s offices or the surrounding departments, but orphanages. That was what happened in our miserable Cambodian territory. We are proud however that we did not leave any child without care. In addition, we are proud that those orphans had good education and training compared to the children living with the family. We set the limit at that time that should they not finish lower secondary school, we will not allow them to drop out of school. Those with high learning ability, we help them continue their studies until they find a job […]
“As far as I know, our children are doing well in education,” said President Dereje Wordofa. Four left the centers to become doctors, five to become engineers, seven to become bankers, three to become architects, two to become designers, and many others are now in business, customer service, and government ranks. This has proven that Cambodia has many orphans […] this year marks the 20th anniversary of the inauguration of the first Children’s Village in Phnom Penh. Just this small part also produces human resources for our society. As for the children who became orphans in 1979 and after 1979, we also trained them. They become mothers or some even become their grandparents. This indicates how concerned we were for the well-being of children who survived the Pol Pot genocide […]
Social Cares and Supports for Pregnant Women of Poor Households
We have started and implemented since 2019 (a social programs for) more than 250,000 mothers and children who received services from the beginning of pregnancy until the child is 2 years old. We strive to keep the program permanent. We do not just take care of children who have been born and abandoned. For years now, we have been paying attention to women in poor households. We offered supports as soon as the pregnancy started. Before giving birth, we started support when they come for a pregnancy test. Going for regular check-ups in other countries, the doctors charge. In this program here, when you go for a pregnancy test, the pregnant women get some support money back. On their delivery, we have a budget for them. After that, we provide them financial supports eight more times until the child gets to his two years of age […] This is our specific program. We are now working on to find out whether we could increase amount of financial support should our economy allow. The level of our subsidy is not large, but as our economy grows, we can look further into this case.
People with Disabilities – 2% in Public Sector and 1% in Private Sector
This is what the president of the organization just called for more attention. I think we should inform the President about programs related to children and mothers who are receiving care from the Royal Government. Of course, this is not enough. We still have several things to do. Number of orphans are declining in centers and some centers have closed, such as orphanages left by the Pol Pot regime. We still have some centers, such as the one I built. They even have salary regime. That relates to girls victims of rape by their father or grandfather – an unfortunate beasty nature of such a person. The story of the troublemaker is one thing, but more to care for is the girl […] we have built such a center and it has not been inaugurated, but we already let them move in.
We have also set up schools to train mute/deaf children, where some of whom are now in primary school, some are in secondary school, some are in colleges, and some are working in the state institutions, where it is required that the public sector must have people with disabilities 2% of their staff. We are looking at institutions, whether this is enough. We require the private sector to have 1% […] as a matter of policy we do not leave anyone, regardless of their type, who are with disabilities, except for thieves/robbers who have to go for a separate place […]
Born with Different Destinies … But Have Equal Opportunities
We see little grandchildren sitting here and they have a mother to take care of them. This is their future. We have to take care of them. I hope SOS will continue to work with us as we move forward for their future. People are born with different destinies. No one is born with wealth. Some are born into rich family and some are to poor family. No one brings wealth comes with it. Most important is the opportunity we have given them. Now, even if they were born and abandoned or their parents died and had to be under care of the centers, that sounds unfortunate, but it is their good fortune that we have the elderly to take care of them. In the future, they can develop themselves into those who can afford to lead the country.
Running for Prime Minister until No Longer Interested
You may look at the leaders of the country today. Whether me or Samdech Kralahom Sar Kheng, His Excellency Cheam Yeap and other leaders, we were born and living in a difficult situation – at the later end of the French colonial time. It was difficult to look for chance and places to study. It had been hard before we came to today. We have gone through numerous hardships – and survived the life as a pagoda boy learning with the Buddhist monks, life as a child of the poor, etc. but we abandoned no efforts. We have become the leaders of the country and I wish to say it again that I will be running for the post of Prime Minister until I no longer want it. Some may say whatever they wanted. Initially I said that I would run for another 10 years or five more years. I said last year that I would run for it until I no longer want it. People can understand what I mean by that.
The point I want to make is that all the people in the world, not just in Cambodia, are born naked. No one happens to have clothes on. There are times when I am tired of insults and I said to some who had conversation with me frankly – “you are just lucky to be born in a rich country, but it is not sure if you are better than me.” (They) came talking to discipline us. I surprised them with my remark – “you are lucky that you were born in a rich country, so you have the right to discipline me in everything. However, it is not sure that your brain is better than mine.” People are born with eyes, nose and brain, but our country is poor, they say we are bad and rich countries have everything […] I just told the President (of Children’s Village) that in 1979 I went to Addis Ababa. It was the time of Hailemariam (Desalegn Boshe as Prime Minister), and do not forget that King Haile Selassie from Ethiopia used to visit Cambodia. I was the Minister of Foreign Affairs until I was 27 years old. I arrived in Addis Ababa in 1979. It has been 43 years since I went to your country […]
May Be Poor, but Cambodia Vaccinated More Than 92% of Population
There are some points we need to see. We are not overly proud, but ask to be valued. Whether some do not value is their problem but we have fulfilled many works in general. The core issue is that we solve our problems. In the case of combating Covid-19, for instance, how many media outlets insulted Cambodia’s weak health care system? Now, what do they see about us […] today, there are only some 130 cases of infection by Omicron Covid-19 virus variant. We have not released the death toll for today yet, but one died yesterday. Some days there is no death. In many parts of the world, hundreds of thousands are dying, and tens of thousands are infecting. Some countries have 100,000 to 200,000 people a day.
Are they going to evaluate about technology or assess responsibility? Judging by the responsibilities, even if you were born and/or lead a country with modern technology and health system, their thinking may not be far reaching compared to actions that Cambodia has taken so far. Cambodia is a poor country, but Cambodia has vaccinated more than 92% of the population nationwide. Cambodia is in the process of vaccinating children aged 3 and 4 years old, who so far have vaccinated nearly 50% of them. What could these points really show? Countries/people who boast about the strong health system and humiliate us that the health system is weak, should now see how do we save people?
Three Decisions – No PCR Test Required, No Rapid Test, Visa on Arrival
Speaking of Covid-19, I call on our people to continue practicing “Three Dos and Three Don’ts Measures” […] after returning from Sihanoukville, I decided on three issues as followed:
First, expatriates no longer need a 72-hour PCR test. The President came earlier so he needed to present a PCR certificate stating that he was COVID-19 negative for 72 hours. Now Cambodia has no need. We think the airlines are responsible […]
Second, while arriving at our airports, there is no need for rapid testing. Previously, we did a rapid test […] previously we cancel the PCR and do a rapid test for 15 or 20 minutes for results. Now you do not have to have the inside of your nose scratched. Just carry your luggage and leave with your passport […]
Third, you do not need to apply for a visa in any country. You can apply for a visa upon arrival at the request of the Minister of Tourism. Before, coming to Cambodia, people had to get a visa here and there. Now we will issue visa upon arrivals.
With these three points, we have relaxed rules for our citizens traveling abroad and from abroad into the country. To go abroad, however, it depends on each country. For entering Cambodia, for example, hundreds of citizens are going out and returning every day. They have to go to the health department of the visiting country to get a certificate. Now, our Cambodian brothers and sisters, whether going abroad or returning to their home countries, there is no need to do so. We do not need further confirmation on this matter […]
On arrival, you do not need to have your nose scratched (for Covid-19 test). Scratching the inside of your nose hurts and it costs the Royal Government money. Every day, the government spends a lot of on that. We had to pay for test equipment but also protecting clothe […] we simplify this issue to attract investment and facilitate those who come to do business as well as tourism in Cambodia.
Cambodia to Host Second Global Economic Dialogue
At all of these points, we continue to move forward towards the goal of developing way to live with COVID-19. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to discuss with the Vice President of the World Bank that Cambodia will be hosting a global dialogue on issues related to ASEAN. Hosting the ASEAN Summit, Cambodia will host the Second Global Dialogue, the first of which held in 2012 with the participation of ASEAN actors and ASEAN partners. We invited the IMF, the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank. This time, we can attract other partners to participate through participation in person or online. We are choosing a topic. The topic will definitely be about economics. We will have to figure out at what state of the economy, and we have to think about that time as we are now in the reopening stage of socio-economic activity in the learning phase of living with Covid-19.
Some countries are also preparing for post-Covid-19 economic recovery. When will the Covid-19 end? No one can answer. Omicron is contagious in a fast manner, but it does not kill like Delta and/or Alpha. The world is on the rise of infection, even in Vietnam yesterday, 180,000 cases, but the death rate is declining. Most infection in Cambodia now caused by Omicron. In the world’s, Omicron infection is more than 95%, but the death toll is down. Now in England, they stop counting in their data, how many infections, how many deaths, because they now considered it as normal diseases. If you have a stuffy nose, take a nasal decongestant […]
1983 – Prey Veng Conference; Australia Recognized Khmer Rouge No More
Thank you for all the hard work we have put in. I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the Provincial Board of Governors and Provincial Councils for their good work in making a lot of progress for Prey Veng Province. In January, I came to inaugurate National Road 11, which connects Neak Leung and Thnal Toteung to National Road 7. We also inaugurated two bridges with the help of Japan jointly with five bridges in Kratie.
In Prey Veng, Cheam Yeap and I have many memories. I still remember in 1983 I came to the provincial convention with (Khieu) Kanharith. That was the day when Australia declared its cessation of Khmer Rouge recognition at the United Nations. All those events we must remember. I will write a book in detail an there will be chapter in each country on how did we start a relationship, Ethiopia included. I have to write about it because I was in Ethiopia to celebrate the reign of Mangistu Haile Mariam in place of Emperor Haile Selassie. I also had to write my book, probably about tens of thousands of pages […] we also went up to rest in Kompong Cham after our visit and sleepover in Prey Veng. In those days, we traveled a lot throughout the country. Prime Minister and other leaders traveled and inspected the country’s development.
Postponing Projects to Fund Covid-19 Combating
From the past to today, Prey Veng has gone through many stages. Prey Veng now has university, high schools, secondary schools, primary schools, and many roads. It is true that Prey Veng has many roads that need paving. Connections in Prey Veng are necessary but we have limited capital capacity. As the need arises for combating Covid-19, we needed to save financial resource by postponing some of the projects so that we are ready to pay for this disease, which nobody knew when it would end […]
Misrepresentation of ASEAN-US Special Summit
Regarding this issue, let me share with you a little clarification […] I have already said that this year I am very busy both at home and abroad. Although some programs have been cut off due to my work in the country, there have been distorted interpretations of the ASEAN-US Special Summit scheduled for the 28th and 29th of this month – March. Some interpreted that ASEAN chair does not agree on the ASEAN-US meeting. I should discipline them and provide specific information for the Cambodian people […] let me tell you how ASEAN works.
We are the chair of ASEAN, but in ASEAN, there is a task division for each country to be responsible for coordinating between ASEAN and other country. Now the country that is coordinating between ASEAN and the United States is Indonesia. The role of ASEAN-US coordination is Indonesia’s role. The United States announced it wanted the summit to happen on 28-29 March but Indonesia has not yet reached an agreement with ASEAN members. As a result, after coordination, four ASEAN countries cannot attend the meeting on the proposed dates.
There are countries that can (go) but ask for a meeting on March 26 and 27 instead. However, the US side replied that they could not make it on the 26th and 27th (of March). Therefore, it is a good option for both parties to set a time (meeting) to coordinate later. My guess is that the US president will go to Europe. According to plan, he will (possibly) have an emergency meeting within NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. According to the news we have, the US President could leave (to Europe) on March 24. The US president is already busy with a program that they cannot reschedule, as they already set it with NATO in Europe […]
This Year, Many Overseas Meetings – Water Issues in Japan, WEF in Switzerland
I would also like to emphasize that I have prescheduled (going) abroad a little more often. If there is no change after the Khmer New Year in April, I can go to Japan to attend a face-to-face meeting on water issues. Originally, they wanted to meet online, but due to the ease of the situation, they were thinking of meeting online and in person. Particularly for Cambodia, for this water forum, Cambodia (will) go to the meeting in person. It is possible for me to travel to Japan to attend that meeting. After that, I have to go to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, but I have to return to the country one day before the prescheduled two sessions meeting online with other leaders about the future of Asia. I will leave on May 12 and return on May 16 […] to attend the meeting […]. I had to deliver a speech and give time for questions and answers. Later in the evening, we will have another group discussion, including the Prime Minister of Japan […]
In Covid-19 Time … Trade Increased among ASEAN Countries
Some of you, when you meet me, support Cambodia’s Chairmanship and asked me, what do you really want Cambodia to achieve chairing ASEAN? “Apart from the Myanmar issue, the South China Sea issue, the COC issue, what I wanted was co-operation within the ASEAN framework itself in relation to the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA),” I said. (I have observed that) at the beginning of Covid-19, each country took different measures. Some just closed the border. If we look back, despite the different measures we took, the trade volume has increased between ASEAN countries. It is the complementary (role that we played) for one another.
Cambodia and Vietnam previously set a trade volume target of only $ 5 billion […] obviously we made nearly US$ 10 billion two years in a row […] previously, the volume of imports from Vietnam to Cambodia was more than Cambodia exported to Vietnam. However, during the Covid-19 phase, Cambodia exported a lot to Vietnam. Cambodia and Thailand also have a trade volume of more than US$ 10 billion. Cambodia and Malaysia trade volume reaches more than 500 million USD. We only examine (trade volume between Cambodia and) three countries […]
We need to make full use of the opportunities for deeper integration within our ASEAN framework. We have not yet used AFTA, and we will use the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement with China. We use the RCEP Comprehensive Economic Agreement framework with ASEAN 10 plus five partners, namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. If we did these, it will ensure that trade flows in corridors of ASEAN works. Now, if Vietnamese come to Cambodia, they had to fly to South Korea and fly from South Korea to Pochentong or fly to Singapore to fly to Cambodia. What if there was a direct flight, it would be good for the economy. It saves time and money. Thailand and Cambodia, Singapore and Cambodia, Malaysia and Cambodia have already launched direct flights […]
Prey Veng Contributes to Food Surplus, Cambodians Won’t Lack Rice
Prey Veng has also become a province that contributes to the food surplus in Cambodia. This year, according to our estimates, there will be no less than 5 million tons of rice. On my flight here, we see that some of our paddy being harvested, some are in full-grown, and some are cropping. Our economic process functions normally. Yesterday I told the World Bank Vice President that, the biggest thing is we have to do everything we can to get our economy back on track. One of the most important things is no matter what the situation we will not leave Cambodians without rice in the pots. Cambodia still has food. We have rice, fish, meat, which we produce locally […]
Sixteen Political Parties Field Candidates for Commune/ Sangkat Council Seats
Of course, the topic (today) is about the children in this center. It will be all in just five minutes. As a prime minister, I also have many more topics to talk about […] including an explanation of how ASEAN works and asking people not to misinterpret that Cambodia does not want a meeting between ASEAN and the United States. I also sent a message that by the end of the coming May and June, I could not leave the country because there will be a commune/Sangkat councils elections. Sixteen parties participated in the election and fielded candidates for commune/sangkat councils. The Prime Minister must be in the country. At that time, I should not leave the country.
However, let say they could reach an agreement on when to meet, any time, I can remove my local schedules. I can make time for it. However, people should stop saying that Cambodia does not want to meet with the United States. It is not so. That is what the Indonesian friends have to continue working on it. I do not release the new date that Indonesia has proposed to Cambodia, because we think it is best for Indonesia to coordinate first. Once an agreement reached, both the United States and ASEAN announced the meeting date […]
Row with Russia, Talk for Oil from Venezuela
Gasoline prices go up, please do not curse Hun Sen. The international situation has caused the problem. The war between Russia and Ukraine has created problems for the global economy. Inflation in the United States said to be unprecedented in 40 years. Europe is affected. Now they stop buying oil from Russia […] when they were angry on Venezuela, they stopped buying oil from Venezuela to punish Venezuela. So far, to impose sanctions on Russia, the United States must negotiate to buy oil from Venezuela to stop buying oil from Russia. What happened if Venezuela decided not to sell oil? Oil prices will go up again. Solutions are possible. We reduce some travel, for example, if travel used to require two cars, we use only one car […]
Allows me to notice a little bit (about Children’s Village). They do not force children taking shelter here to respect any religion. We look at every room there is nothing on its walls. In some places, we do not criticize, but they put this and that. The children who took refuge had had to respect that religion. The special point of SOS is that you do not have to respect this/that religion to be in that place. This point should be example and used by other organizations. Some organizations take us to a room with a religion that he worships. Therefore, children who go in, even if their parents follow Buddhism, have to respect the religion of the donors. That is one of the so-called inconsistencies with faith. Everyone has no choice but to stay and respect the religion […] that is a point to note with SOS.
Allow No Cambodians to Serve in Ukraine, but May Receive Refugees
Today, after my talk with the President (of Children’s Village), I had to receive in another meeting President of the Asia Foundation […] I meet him/her briefly and would refer him/her to the meeting with Samdech Kralahom (Sar Kheng) […] (it is about Afghanistan). An important matter. We also do humanitarian work to provide opportunities for those in need of asylum in our country […] we are willing to accept people from Afghanistan, but I still do not allow Cambodians to volunteer for the war in Ukraine. Whoever wants to, let them go but I forbid the Cambodian people from doing so. It is just an act of pouring gasoline on fire. Let them negotiate. Let them find a solution […] it is not necessary for Ukraine, we found a homeless German yesterday. I do not know if the German ambassador/embassy has visited him. He walks with sore feet, no passport, and people posted on Facebook. I asked Chai Sinarith to look for him. We located him and took him to Calmette Hospital, where he underwent surgery on his leg […]./.