Op-Ed: From the Former “Killing Fields” to “Kind Friend” Donating Medical Kits to Fight Covid-19
AKP Phnom Penh, December 02, 2020 --
This Southeast Asian nation has suffered, especially during the Khmer Rouge Regime 1975- 1979 when millions died. Cambodia became known to the outside world as a holocaust and hell, partially through the 1984 movie, The Killing Fields.
The movie itself, produced by David Puttnam, now Britain’s Trade Envoy to Cambodia, and directed by Roland Joffé based on the life of Cambodian survivor Dith Pran, interpreter for American journalist Sydney Schanberg, and the latter’s search for him, would have not shocked the world if the truth was not there.
As a feature film, not a documentary, it had to focus on its characters, with little room to cover the broader scope of facts, the reality littering around after the fall of the regime’s leader, Pol Pot, on Jan. 7, 1979 by Vietnamese army volunteers supported by Cambodian survivors.
Much more convincing to the global audience was Doctor Haing S. Ngor, who played Dith Pran in his first movie, against Hollywood star, Sam Waterston. Haing S. Ngor was himself a Cambodian survivor and is the only Cambodian so far to be awarded Oscar.
In his acceptance speech he thanked Warner Bros. “...for helping me tell my story to the world, let the world know what happened in my country.”
After Haing S. Ngor’s death in 1996, his Oscar was found on a shelf, all the gold rubbed off it by years of being cradled and caressed as he remembered, and perhaps wept alone, as he recalled the dark events of his own life in Cambodia.
That is the past, but the darkest chapter of crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity continued to haunt the world at large. Once the Paris-educated Pol Pot, whose real name was Saloth Sar, ascended to power on April 1701975, he plunged his own nation into a fantasy of an agrarian society, destroying decades of growth and advancement. Although no exact death toll is known, but some sources estimate nearly 3 million died of starvation, execution, disease, and forced labor. One can imagine that, without support from the neighbouring Vietnamese to topple Khmer Rouge on Jan. 7, 1979, the people would have been wiped out from their mother land.
The memorial Dec. 2, 1978
I pen this not to open old wound, but to show our gratefulness as the country commemorates the 42nd anniversary of the establishment of the Kampuchean (or Khmer) United Front for National Salvation. Although I and my parents, along with many other Cambodian villagers, missed the killing fields as we fled to Vietnam before Khmer Rouge took over, but every Cambodian family lost loved ones to that murderous regime.
As a son of this country, I have no magic power to change the past, but can learn from it so I can contribute my work as a government official, and join hands with others to position the country today to reap greater benefits for the people and the nation, while Cambodia plays a greater role in the area of humanitarian affairs, regionally and globally.
Today, Cambodia is said to be a small country with a big heart. We must dedicate ourselves to making sure that always remains true.
Millions of masks donating to Timor-Leste, Laos, Burma
Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Facebook went viral, with views of more than 6k immediately after he posted an announcement that the government and the people of Cambodia have donated 1.5 million masks, along with other medical supplies, to the government and the people of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.
Cambodia also recently donated more than 2 million masks, along with other medical supplies, each to Laos and Burma.
“The modest humanitarian donation in this occasion, is a testimony to the cordial feeling and solidarity of the people of Cambodia with the friendly people of Timor-Leste at this difficult time of unprecedented global health crisis,” he said before Mrs. Adaljiza Albertina Xavier Reis Magno, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.
“I am pleased
to note that the bond of friendship and fruitful cooperation between Cambodia and Timor-Leste has been nurtured and gradually strengthened by our two countries’ leaders and peoples since the start of our formal ties in July 2002, just a few months after Timor-Leste gained independence”.
“With our two countries’ shared commitments and efforts, I strongly believe that our existing excellent bilateral relation and cooperation will be further enhanced to new height for the mutual benefits of our two peoples, thus contributing to peace, stability and prosperity in the region and beyond,” said Ouch Borith.
As part of its international role Cambodia is also active engaged with the United Nations.
The country continues to engage with the international community, such as the European Union, for mutual interests as well as contributing to maintain regional and global social development.
Deputy Prime Minister Prak Sokhonn, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said on the sidelines of the 23rd ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting (AEMM) on 1st, December 2020: “On COVID-19, I highly commend the EU’s active role in supporting the global endeavor to combat the pandemic and to mitigate its socioeconomic consequences, including in our ASEAN region, under the framework of the EU’s “Team Europe” package.”
“ASEAN Members welcomed the EU’s continued support for ASEAN Centrality and Community building and EU’s announcement of EUR 20 million to support the “South East Asia Health Pandemic Response and Preparedness Programme” to help the region better prepare for future public health emergencies”.
“They also recognised the significance of the EU’s contribution of up to EUR 500 million to support the COVAX facility to accelerate and scale-up the development and manufacturing of a global supply of vaccines for all,” said an announcement on the outcome of the 23rd ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting (AEMM).
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently praised the Kingdom of Wonder, Cambodia, for its great management in containing the spread of Covid-19. It proved that Cambodia is capable, under the Premier’s leadership, in the fight against the virus.
As of Dec. 2, no deaths have been reported although Cambodia has 329 cases of Covid-19 nationwide, including foreign nationals, of which 304 recovered. The country’s population is more than 16.8 million.
Global Covid-19 cases recorded more than 62.5 million, including the deaths of more than 1.4 million, recoveries of over 43.1 million, and some 17.9 million still hospitalised.
Deputy Prime Minister Prak Sokhonn welcomed the EU’s active role in supporting the global endeavor to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and to mitigate its socioeconomic consequences. He also emphasised the importance of the EU’s support to ASEAN’s current initiatives to strengthen preparedness for future public health emergencies.
The U.N. has praised Cambodia’s peace-keeping forces for its work overseas with the United Nations. Cambodia, despite being a poor nation, makes a significant contribution to the U.N. international peace-keeping programs and to date has already dispatched more than 5,000 Cambodian peace-keeping troops to operate under the UN. umbrella in Sudan, Central Africa, Lebanon, and other nations.
Many friends from near and far had have helped Cambodia, especially after the Paris Peace Agreement in late 1991, and followed by the UN. sponsored election in 1993. The country was one of the key aid recipient countries in the 1990s till the mid-2000s.
The nation has immensely developed over the last 20 years in all fields, thanks to the great leadership of Prime Minister Hun Sen. So, it time for Cambodia—since we live on the same earth and under the same sky and share many things in common such as Covid-19—to help others at the time of this hardship.
Cambodia today is changing its image from the former “killing fields” place to “kind friends”.
We may be small but, like our famous Kampot Pepper, we have global reach and influence.
By Ek Tha
Standing-Vice Chairman of the Royal Government Spokesperson Unit,
Spokesman of the Council of Ministers, Advisor to the Ministry of Information