No More Politics as Nation’s Drought Continues

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Prime Minister Hun Sen slammed his political opponents for not helping the government deal with the drought. KT/Ven Rathavong

After demanding the drought not be politicized in a speech last week, Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday he has so far not observed opposition political parties assisting the effort to distribute water to the Kingdom’s drought-stricken residents.  
“I do not dare anymore to appeal to another political party because since I called for their help, we have not seen any parties in action. Do not talk openly. Act. Even though [they] encourage and support the activity of the government or charity, they do not have either,” Mr. Hun Sen said during an inauguration ceremony at the Keo Mony Pagoda in Kampong Cham province’s Kang Meas district yesterday.
“So, I can only appeal to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, who often solve the people’s problems in the provinces. We do not wait until the campaign for election ballots. We are with people since we do not have nothing,” he added.
Opposition party spokesman Yim Sovann responded previously to Mr. Hun Sen’s appeal for all political parties to chip in with the drought relief effort, saying that the CPP alone has the funds, resources and power to respond to the needs of Cambodians across the country. The government collects taxes from its citizens, he said, so it is the duty of the government to resolve problems caused by natural disasters such as the drought.
Vice-president of the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) Nhim Vanda told local media yesterday that about 2.5 million Cambodians are currently struggling with drought conditions. While the drought has affected 100 districts throughout the country, between 70 and 80 percent of those areas have already received aid.
Last week Keo Vy, the cabinet director and spokesman of the NCDM, said that all of the Kingdom’s provinces have been affected by the drought, with 18 provinces being more severely affected than others. The Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology and local authorities have been trying to find a source of water they can take and transport to the villagers for temporary use.
Mr. Vanda sent working groups and resources to Pursat, Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provinces last week, and the government said it was allocating funds to help the hardest hit provinces.
The country’s human residents are not the only group struggling with the drought. Animals have been severely affected as a result of the drought, with high temperatures being blamed for the death of hundreds of bats in Siem Reap’s Phnom Bouk Temple in April, an elephant at Angkor Wat Park two weeks ago, and tons of fish at a sanctuary in Kampong Thom province last Saturday.

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