Prime Minister Hun Sen told rights workers and NGOs Monday that they spend too much time criticizing the government, and that they should focus on educating people about the dangers of AIDS instead.
NGOs are shying away from combating HIV-AIDS because it is easier to lambaste the government, Hun Sen said at an inauguration ceremony for three new buildings at Phnom Penh’s National Pediatric Hospital.
“NGOs who are working on human rights…could inform villagers [about AIDS], but they don’t do that, they like cursing the government,” he said.
Hun Sen also warned that AIDS will become more of a problem if people do not discuss the disease publicly.
Hun Sen then admonished medics at an unidentified hospital in Kompong Cham province who he claimed had refused to treat patients after discovering that they supported the ruling CPP.
“You cannot ask the patients which political party they are from. You must treat all the patients well,” he said.
SRP lawmaker Yim Sovann said that he had never heard of doctors and nurses refusing to treat patients who belong to the CPP.
In reality, CPP-affiliated doctors sometimes discriminate against patients who are members of the SRP, he said.
Ou Virak, spokesman for the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said that if human rights workers spent all their time discussing AIDS, government policy would never change to benefit the people. Rights workers put much-needed pressure on the government, he added.
“Most of the Cambodian people understand the need for us to be the watchdogs,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Elizabeth Tomei.)