Being aware of the risks, Cambodia has taken very bold and decisive steps to assist those in need to deal with common global threats such as the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The decision of the Prime Minister Hun Sen to visit China reflects a sense of international responsibility to reduce the widespread panic and anxiety as this fear is more harmful and dangerous than the virus itself.
Again, yesterday, the Cambodian government made a bold decision with good faith to allow the Westerdam cruise ship to dock in Sihanoukville, after six countries have denied its entry due to the concern over the spread of COVID-19.
This morning, Prime Minister Hun Sen was in Sihanoukville to welcome the passengers. Presenting red rose, a symbol of love, to the first batch of departing passengers to the airport, PM Hun Sen stressed the importance of moral responsibility and international partnership in dealing with the outbreak of COVID-19.
Among more than 1455 passengers and 802 crew on board, there are more than 600 American tourists; but surprisingly the Guam authority rejected the entry of the ship. One American tourist, while he was interviewed by the local television, disappointedly said, “Why Guam did not take us”. Guam is the westernmost point and territory of the United States.
PM Hun Sen has directly instructed his government to take all measures to ensure that all passengers and crew are safely and smoothly returning to their home countries. He has also urged Cambodians to warmly welcome the passengers, without discrimination or fear.
The ship is allowed to dock for free of charge, as many days as it wishes to.
Twenty passengers who were suspected of being infected by COVID-19 were transported via helicopter to Pasteur institute in Phnom Penh for testing. All of them were COVID-19 negative.
Four charted flights operated by Angkor Air have been arranged to take those who are interested in visiting Angkor temple complex in Siem Reap, while waiting for their departure.
This can be regarded as the new era of Cambodia’s foreign policy. Humanitarianism and moral responsibility are part and parcel of Cambodia’s foreign policy and international cooperation.
Cambodia is not a developed country, but it has big heart to offer to the international community. Helping others to live in dignity without discrimination and protecting the right to life are the most important elements of human rights.