T HOUSANDS of people including the two Prime Ministers, uniformed police and soldiers, public servants and students pitched in to help clean up the capital in the first-ever Keep Phnom Penh Clean Day on December 23.
Each group chose an area to clean - the Prime Ministers and several of their ministers tidied up the inside of the National Olympic Stadium - to make the city look more beautiful on the clear, sunny day.
Prince Ranariddh said the work should not be done just once but regularly.
"We don't use the word 'Make' but 'Keep' Phnom Penh clean...we should do it every day or every week," he said.
Keeping the capital free of litter and pollution would help tourists enjoy their time there and reduce health problems for its residents, he said.
Such problems were not limited to Phnom Penh but could occur throughout Cambodia.
"Pollution can affect hygiene and people's health. In the dry season, pollution in some provinces can cause cholera that will affect the national budget and national prestige."
The Prince said years of war had destroyed much of the achievements of the rule of his father, King Norodom Sihanouk. The country's infrastructure, and the pride of the people, had been damaged.
He hoped the government's decision to make December 23 "National Hygiene Day" every year would help encourage people to look after the environment.
In the capital, beautiful buildings were spoilt if there were mounds of rubbish sitting on roads outside them.
On Keep Phnom Penh Clean Day, volunteer rubbish collectors trod the streets for several hours picking up rubbish and clearing sections and parks of debris.
One of them, Puon Tim, said he got up early in the morning to take part.
"I am happy because I want to add to the city's beauty and the health of its people," he said.
Ranariddh was the brains behind the campaign which Undersecretary of State for the Environment Ministry Ly Thuch hoped could be run every three months.
Ly Thuch had also asked Asia Pacific Development, the French company contracted to collect garbage and take it to the Stung Mean Chay dump, to do a more effective job than it had been doing.
The day's events finished with a ceremony at Olympic Stadium, where speeches were given and refreshments were provided to participants.
The last task of the rubbish collectors was to clean themselves.
They were all provided with water and soap to remove the grime on their hands from their day's work.