Phnom Penh (FN), Apr. 14 – During the ASEAN Special Summit on Covid-19 via video conference held on Tuesday morning, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen shared six points of views with other ASEAN leaders to jointly fight Covid-19.
“Within the frameworks of globalization and regional integration, I am confident that the containment of this disease cannot be done within one country; and the success in fighting against Covid-19 requires an in-depth and comprehensive cooperation across sectors,” the premier underlined.
ASEAN has to unite together in fighting against Covid-19 as a common cause. In this spirit, the premier would like to share some of his views as follows:
1. As Covid -19 is a new disease and many related aspects are unknown, ASEAN indeed needs to: (one) enhance the timely exchange and sharing of best practices, information, data, techniques, experiences and medical knowledge on the disease in the field of preventing, controlling, diagnosing, treating and monitoring; (two) further strengthen existing ASEAN cooperation mechanism, as well as cooperation with international organizations and dialogue partners in public health sector in order to tackle challenges resulted from Covid -19 in an effective and comprehensive manner; and (three) provide supports among ASEAN Member States, including the sharing of resources, techniques, medical equipment and supplies, etc. In this spirit, the Royal Government of Cambodia would like to express our highest appreciation for the establishment of a “Covid -19 ASEAN Response Fund” in addressing necessary needs of medical equipment and supplies for instance.
2. ASEAN, as a community of common destiny, should enhance closer coordination and dialogue among Member States ahead of an introduction of any measures, avoiding heavy socio-economic damages within the region though unilateral measures such as a closure of cross-border checkpoints without prior notice, which can possibly affect production, supply chains, trade flows between countries in the region and the entire regional economy, particularly travelling, businesses, and the daily lives of the citizens living in the ASEAN region.
3. Since the fighting against Covid -19 requires significant funding, supplies, and human resources, what Cambodia could share as an experience is through fostering and cultivating a culture of sharing, for instance, from public institutions toward the people; from development partners and NGOs toward the people; from high-income groups toward the society and the low-income groups, and between people at community levels. This culture has not only helped relieve pressures on the national budget, but also established a united movement, a spirit of one nation and a catalyst to fighting against Covid -19.
4. We have to avoid racial discrimination and the attitude of blame game, which can lead to a breakup of unity, while the rest of the world is trying to remain united in fighting against Covid-19. In the spirit of humanitarian and international solidarity, Cambodia has allowed the Westerdam cruise ship, loaded with more than 2,200 passengers, to dock in the morning of February 13, 2020. So far, Cambodia has not only provided treatment to Cambodian but also foreign citizens free of charge: 2 Indonesians, 13 Malaysians, 1 Chinese, 5 British, 40 French, 1 Canadian, 1 Belgian and 2 Americans.
5. We have to continue strengthening the spirit of mutual assistance within ASEAN, especially for those stranded or suffered from Covid-19. In this sense, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to ASEAN Member States for coordinating and facilitating stranded Cambodian in a number of airports. Cambodia in return has provided the same treatment. On March 25, 2020, Cambodia indeed allowed Malaysia to send a special airplane to pick up 111 Malaysian citizens who have stranded in Cambodia.
6. ASEAN has to consider strategies toward recovering and boosting economic growth once Covid-19 ceases. Cambodia is of the view that ASEAN needs to further accelerate the implementation of existing plans and mechanisms, such as promoting the regional economic integration, abolishing non-tariff measures, and enhancing trade facilitation. In addition, we have to enhance the implementation of ASEAN’s integration initiatives by focusing on: (a) promoting micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as well as technological and innovative start-ups, (b) enhancing public-private partnership in digital economy, and (c) developing digital human resources and skills.