Minister of Interior Sar Kheng on Saturday encouraged people to have five children per family so the Kingdom’s population can double to more than 32 million.
He said the recent census found that Cambodia has a population of 15.2 million, but the country is large enough to have twice as many.
In a groundbreaking ceremony for a temple in Prey Veng province on Saturday, Sar Kheng said some countries had begun to fear an increased population – especially those with growing economies and those whose people consider themselves too busy with work.
“The more children you have, the better it is – but too many is not good. Five or six is good, with five on average."
In 1979 the Khmer Rouge killed many people and there were only five million left. Now it has increased to 15 million but that is still not enough."
“People abroad only think about work. In the morning they leave for work and in the evening they come back. They have no time to look after their children."
“But in Cambodia, it hasn’t reached that situation and it is still far away because we lost so many people due to war and genocide,” he said.
Sar Kheng said the government had not banned contraception and family planning is up to the individuals involved.
“If they want to use contraception, it’s up to them. And if they want to have children, it’s up to them.
But it’s just my personal opinion that 15.2 million is too few for Cambodia. It should be at least double that, meaning more than 30 million, because our territory is big enough,” he said.
Sar Kheng also appealed to all Cambodians to help reduce domestic violence, saying it was vital to preserve maternal health and the issue affects everyone’s social wellbeing.
He raised the example of a case last week in which a husband became angry at his wife and used petrol to set fire to the house, killing himself, his wife and their two-month-old son.
“Why did he do it? Before making any decision, there should be comprehensive and thorough consideration so the wrong choice is not made. We are a Buddhist nation,” he said.
Capacity building NGO Silaka’s executive director Seng Reasey said that when the population increases, demand also increases, so the government must also prepare a plan to meet people’s needs such as “their daily livelihood, their education and public, health and other services”.
She welcomed Sar Kheng’s appeal to help reduce domestic violence but requested that the authorities do their bit by strengthening law enforcement and providing justice for victims.
She hoped to see local law enforcement officers educated to better understand domestic violence, as she said currently their knowledge was still limited.
“Our observations tell us that domestic violence is still increasing. Although there is no data showing whether domestic violence has increased or decreased, we still see a picture of [domestic] violence becoming more and more brutal,” Reasey said.