Prime Minister Hun Sen pledged $200,000 in donation towards the purchase of medical supplies for Myanmar, saying the move was made in the spirit of friendship and solidarity between the Cambodian and Myanmar peoples.
In a letter dated August 17 to Min Aung Hlaing, chairman of the State Administration Council of Myanmar, Hun Sen said he has closely observed Myanmar’s efforts to fight their outbreak of Covid-19 by taking “strong” measures to contain it from the beginning.
“In the spirit of friendship and solidarity between our two countries, in addition to Cambodia’s pledge of $100,000 to the ASEAN humanitarian assistance to Myanmar fund at the ASEAN coordinating centre for humanitarian assistance, I would like to donate $200,000 in cash directly from the Royal Government of Cambodia,” Hun Sen said.
Hun Sen said he will also donate medical supplies to Myanmar, including three million masks, 500,000 rapid test kits, 2000 pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE), 100 oxygen concentrators, 20 ventilators and 20 patient monitoring stations with accessories.
He said Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng will lead a delegation to deliver the donations and aid via special flight to Myanmar to be arranged with them soon.
“I am firmly convinced that with our joint efforts, we will overcome this global pandemic and we shall all survive it in one piece,” Hun Sen said.
Cambodian Institute for Democracy president Pa Chanroeun told The Post on August 17 that the move is a humanitarian gesture by the head of the Cambodian government and on behalf of the Cambodian people in order to alleviate the hardships and challenges faced by the people of Myanmar in combating the spread of Covid-19.
“This gesture is a way of strengthening our country to country ties. The standard sort of Covid-19-era diplomacy through medical assistance and aid, which Cambodia often receives from other nations – but this time we will be the side doing the giving, to Myanmar,” he said.
Chanroeun noted that before giving aid to other nations, Cambodia should assess its own internal needs first given its own limited resources.
“Do our people have enough resources to prevent the spread of Covid-19? This is an important question, but it must be balanced with showing what a big heart Cambodia has by helping people going through times of crisis in other countries,” he said.
He said when Phnom Penh and adjacent Takhmao town in Kandal province were locked down earlier this year, people living in those areas faced a lot of shortages of basic supplies like face masks and alcohol-based sanitizers and disinfectants – not to mention, at least initially, food to eat – and the ongoing civil unrest in Myanmar can only be adding to those problems.
Chanroeun said there were no issues related to shortages or lack of access to necessary supplies right now among the Cambodian general public or in medical facilities. Thus, if Myanmar’s needs right now are dire, the donations are reasonable.
“As a Cambodian citizen, I am not narrow-minded and I am proud when we are able to help people in other countries, but [the government] should definitely make sure to give enough priority to providing financial and material support to Cambodians first, especially in areas or communities with very poor living conditions,” he said.