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Bring home the bacon: PM

Bring home the bacon: PM

GO hog wild. That’s the message Prime Minister Hun Sen delivered yesterday to Cambodians who were unsure about whether to consume pork products following the Kingdom’s recent outbreak of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, or blue ear.

“I would like to appeal to everyone to eat pork – pork does not transmit disease, and I eat pork every day,” Hun Sen said. “I eat pork every day, and there is no problem.”

Earlier this month, the premier ordered a ban on pig imports from Vietnam and Thailand after reports of blue ear outbreaks in those countries.

Speaking yesterday at the Council for the Development of Cambodia, he said he had thought the import ban would drive up local pork prices.

Instead, he lamented, the prices of beef and fish have spiked, and pork sales have plummeted.

“I would like to appeal to everyone to eat pork, but make sure it’s cooked,” Hun Sen said. “Don’t eat raw pork.”

Dr Lotfi Allal, a representative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, said last week that blue-ear disease could not be contracted by humans, though he said that people “should not eat meat from affected animals”.

The prime minister is no stranger to pig-associated maladies, having been afflicted with A(H1N1) influenza, more commonly known as swine flu, in June.

He has since recovered, and noted defiantly last month that the illness caused him to miss just four public appearances.

“I will not die easily,” he said. “When [the opposition Sam Rainsy Party] leader dies, I will still be alive. I have decided to serve until 2023 or 2028.... I will not stop; the party also does not allow me to stop.”

High on the hog
Ung Chhay Ly, a pig raiser in Kandal province’s Kien Svay district, said yesterday that pork sales had slowly begun recovering after earlier fears had slowed them drastically. However, he called for continued vigilance against blue ear.

“There has not been much effect on my pigs, but others have been harmed and veterinarians have not been able to help them,” he said.

“We should continue to ban imports from neighbouring countries because the situation is not resolved yet.”

Srun Pov, head of the Cambodian Pig Raisers Association, said last week that the ban on pig imports could be lifted next month.

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