It has been two years since Prime Minister Hun Sen allowed thousands of multinational passengers of the MS Westerdam cruise ship to dock at Preah Sihanouk port on February 14.

Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine marked Valentine’s Day by remembering the event, saying the priceless gesture showed the premier’s love for humanity and generous heart.

She regarded February 14 as the day when Hun Sen had saved the lives of the passengers. Not one of them ever tested positive for Covid-19.

“This act was a true humanitarian gesture of love. Although Cambodia is a small country, it has a big heart. We not only provided love and a chance of survival for all those individuals on board, but also gave hope, smiles and love to their families and loved ones,” she added.

Hun Sen said at that time that permitting the ship to dock was done on humanitarian grounds. It was not a time to be afraid or to discriminate, but a time to unite to address challenges, he said.

Hun Sen travelled from Phnom Penh to Preah Sihanouk to meet with the passengers in person as they disembarked early on the morning of February 14, 2020. He presented flowers to each of them without discriminating between races.

The more than 2,200 people were nationals of 41 countries. The MS Westerdam – which belongs to the Holland America Line – was allowed to dock at the port after being denied docking rights by Japan, Taiwan, Guam, the Philippines and Thailand out of fear of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This priceless act was a clear demonstration of the true humanitarian spirit of the prime minister,” Vandine said.