Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen defends decision to dock Westerdam cruise ship

Hun Sen defends decision to dock Westerdam cruise ship

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Hun Sen said he acted to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Hun Sen Facebook

Hun Sen defends decision to dock Westerdam cruise ship

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday hit back at critics who say he allowed the Westerdam cruise ship to dock in Sihanoukville for political reasons.

Speaking at an annual gathering of the Ministry of Interior, Hun Sen said he acted to avert a humanitarian catastrophe after several countries denied the Westerdam access to their ports.

“If Cambodia had not accepted the ship, it would have become a humanitarian crisis. If Cambodia had not granted it the right to enter, where would the ship be now? They would have already run out of oil, food and water,” the prime minister said.

He said no passenger onboard the Westerdam had tested positive for Covid-19, except for an 83-year-old American woman who tested positive in Malaysia. However, Hun Sen questioned where the woman became infected.

“The case of the woman in Malaysia is a different story. She was the only passenger that tested positive and now she has recovered and is back in her country. She will say whatever she wants to say about how she became infected.

“We didn’t find anything wrong with her when she was here. So, did she contract the disease in Cambodia or in Malaysia?” Hun Sen asked.

He stressed that the case of the infected passenger had not created tensions with Malaysia. “Some say that there is a diplomatic dispute between Cambodia and Malaysia regarding the case of the 83-year-old American woman.

“I want to emphasise that there is no dispute. We are simply asking for an explanation because we did not find any trace of the disease when she was here, but then she tested positive in Malaysia. Where did she contract the disease?

“It is highly unlikely that she would test positive while her husband and thousands of others at the ship tested negative. But, I reiterate, there is no diplomatic dispute between Cambodia and Malaysia,” Hun Sen stressed.

The prime minister thanked Thailand for confirming that none of the Westerdam passengers was infected upon entering Bangkok after leaving Phnom Penh.

He also thanked Indonesia and Japan for confirming that their citizens on the Westerdam were not infected either.

Ministry of Tourism spokesperson Top Sopheak said on Thursday that 20 to 30 of the passengers were still in Cambodia. He said most of the crew of over 800 people have returned to the ship in Sihanoukville.

“They are already back on the ship, but I don’t know when it will leave Cambodia,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • Cambodia purchases 4 million Molnupiravir tablets

    Cambodia has arranged for the purchase of four million US-made Molnupiravir pills – enough to treat 100,000 Covid-19 patients – even though the current rate of daily infections in Cambodia remains low. The medicine will be distributed to state hospitals, pharmacies and private clinics, according to the Samdech

  • Rise in planned flights lifts travel hopes

    Six airlines have applied to resume flights in December, while two others have put in for additional flights and routes, according to State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) head Mao Havannall on November 29. These account for 43 new weekly domestic and international flights in December, up 16

  • Is Cambodia’s travel sector in for another cheerless holiday season?

    The travel and tourism sector was heaving back to life as borders started to reopen, promising a festive vibe for the holidays and New Year. But Omicron and other Covid-related issues are threatening to close the year on a bleak note ‘Seems [like] Covid-19 won’

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Cambodia planning new border checkpoint at Thma Da

    Cambodia is looking into the possibility of opening a new Thma Da Border Checkpoint with Thailand to boost trade and tourism. The Ministry of Public Works and Transport said on December 4 that Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol led a technical working group