Government health centers and schools are off-limits for so-called “land swaps,” Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday in a speech that also called on people to be better drivers and to stop littering in Phnom Penh.
Mr Hun Sen, speaking generally of government officials, said that he did not want to hear excuses as to why a particular building, even if old and in disrepair, needed to be swapped for new buildings and land elsewhere.
“I’ve told you to keep all the pre-schools across Phnom Penh…. Pre-schools and health centers, I told you to keep them all. Now we don’t have the money to [renovate them] but we must keep them and not give them to anyone,” Mr Hun Sen said.
“Preschool areas are for children, not only in Phnom Penh city but in all urban areas across the country.”
While the prime minister referred specifically to preschools, Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said that the premier’s order, which was already longstanding, was directed at all schools.
Opposition party spokesman Yim Sovann responded yesterday saying that the prime minister’s call to rein in the selling of state properties was too late as most of the most lucrative government real estate had already been “swapped” into private hands without any oversight. The prime minister’s comments on the subject were just “entertainment,” Mr Sovann said.
“He should have done this in 1993. It’s too late now…. The speaker keeps speaking and the vendor just keeps selling,” he said.
Pushing home a safe driving message, Mr Hun Sen also said yesterday that if dangerous drivers do not care about the lives of other people, they should at least care about their own fate.
“If you don’t love other peoples’ lives, please love your own as when the accident happens the person you hit might not die but you might die, or you will be punished and put in jail or fined,” he said.
And finally, it was a clean capital city message from the prime minister, who said that it was up to the population of Phnom Penh to do something about the litter on the streets.
“Not only in Phnom Penh but all the cities have to do the same. But Phnom Penh is the heart of Cambodia,” he said.
Seng Savy, chief of the city’s contracted garbage collection firm Cintri, welcomed the prime minister’s public service message, and agreed that cleaning up the capital’s street needed to start with a change of mindset.
“We need them to do it as a habit. It should be the habit to put litter in a rubbish bin or keep it in a bag,” he said.