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

  • Draft law on state of emergency pending finalisation

    Prime Minister Hun Sen will lead a top-level meeting on Tuesdays to review the draft law on imposing a state of emergency. Meantime, he has decided to close all casinos in Cambodia effective April 1. In the press conference after the National Assembly met today, Hun

  • State of emergency on table amid pandemic

    Prime Minister Hun Sen, his deputy prime ministers and legal team will meet on Tuesday to review the draft law on declaring a state of emergency, as Covid-19 cases rose to 107 in the Kingdom on Monday. Speaking at a press conference after a parliament meeting

  • Stranded passengers petition UK for help

    Some 10,521 people have signed an online petition calling on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and relevant officials to fly nearly 200 passengers out of Cambodia. The petition is targeted at 15,000 people. Most of the passengers are British nationals, who are stranded in Cambodia after airlines cancelled

  • Covid-19 Pandemic: Force majeure and legal consequences

    Is the Covid-19 pandemic considered an event of force majeure? The World Health Organisation declared the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak a pandemic on March 11. Following this declaration, the Ministry of Health and other ministries have taken various legal and administrative measures to prevent the rapid

  • Many in limbo as tension heightens

    As the Kingdom restricts travel and prepares for a state of emergency, some foreigners in Cambodia are scrambling for a way home. Foreign embassies in Phnom Penh are making efforts to get their citizens out, but cancelled flights have become common due to the coronavirus

  • PM set to mend ties with US

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has responded to US Congressman Ted Yoho, saying he is ready to improve Cambodia-US relations, and not take up issues of disagreements which have become a barrier between the two countries’ bilateral cooperation. His response to Yoho came after the congressman