New Straits Times
HUN SEN BLASTS COVID REMARK
Vietnam should have demoted general blaming Cambodia for virus spread, says PM
PRIME Minister Hun Sen has expressed dismay over a Vietnamese general’s remarks earlier this year, claiming Cambodia was a source of Covid-19 transmissions to Vietnam.
The Khmer Times reports that Hun Sen had asked the Vietnamese government to demote Major-General Hoang Xuan Chien for the remark but he was instead promoted to lieutenantgeneral, and is now the deputy minister of national defence.
He said Chien reportedly said in March that if Vietnamese people were not cautious enough, the Covid-19 virus in Cambodia would spread to Vietnam like it was flooding from the Mekong River.
According to a report in the Phnom Penh Post, the prime minister said although Cambodia was a small nation, it would not accept such insults.
“Chien concluded at the time that ‘if we were negligent, transmissible disease will flow from Cambodia to Vietnam like a flood from the Mekong River’.
“This is a statement that I cannot accept at all and I want to publicly express that.
“Cambodia is a small country, but we have never been a source of disease for Vietnam, Thailand or Laos,” Hun Sen said, noting that he was taking issue with Chien personally and not the government or people of Vietnam.
“Cambodia released itself from this disease by vaccinating its people and we’ve now reached nearly 89 per cent of the population. Such words should never be spoken about one’s neighbours,” he said.
“Now, there is still time for you to make a correction or apology (to Cambodia). This is my message. The statement shows contempt for Cambodia. They are unacceptable and I need to make that clear now,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hun Sen said Cambodia was expected to have a Covid-19 vaccine factory built by China in the near future, following an agreement between Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech and a local firm.
“Some time next year, Cambodians will be able to use locally produced Covid-19 vaccines,” Chinese ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian said during a National Road 11 opening ceremony that was attended by Hun Sen.
Hun Sen praised the plans to have a source for vaccines at hand — not for free, but available to Cambodia whenever they were needed.
He said when Cambodia had its own vaccine factory, the purchasing and transporting costs would be much lower.
“Soon the vaccines shortage that we have had concerns about in the past will not be a problem anymore. We will have our own supply of vaccines, but we’ll have to spend money to buy them, they aren’t going to be free. But we will be assured that we will always have vaccines produced in our territory,” he said.