Although Keo Sophan and Keo Kesey are the daughters of Keo Vibal, a TVK cameraman, they are recognized as the children of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The girls were born five minutes apart. A third, younger sister was born another five minutes later, but died shortly after.
Consequently, the surviving sisters benefited from the charity of Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany, who decided in 1999 that having more than two children arrive in this world at once was too much for parents to handle.
Seng Teang, a relative of Hun Sen’s who coordinates the assistance program to triplets, said Thursday that the prime minister now claims 472 children, from 124 families, across Cambodia.
So far, the program has distributed $93,000 and 24,800 kg of rice. Each eligible family gets $750, 200 kg of rice and four large boxes of milk, Seng Teang said.
He said that whenever word of more than two children being born at once reaches him, a team member goes out to verify that the siblings are legitimate triplets or a set greater.
Once their existence and bond is confirmed, the team member makes the one-time donation to their family and departs forever.
Seng Teang said the donation gives the children special status in their communities, as commune and village chiefs pay them more attention than most newborns. Later, if Hun Sen visits their community to inaugurate or break ground for some project, the children will get to meet their one-time provider, Seng Teang said.
“I think the donations for triplets comes from the premier’s heart,” Seng Teang continued. “It does not matter who, Cambodian or from other nations, or another political party. If they are really triplets, they are Hun Sen’s children.”
These children, most of whom are born into poverty, have given Seng Teang something to ponder. “I don’t understand why the triplets like to live with the poor family instead of the rich family. Why not come be born to a rich family in Phnom Penh?” he asked.
Dok Narin, Ministry of Cult and Religions undersecretary of state, suggested Thursday that the multitudes of restless souls who lost their human form during the Khmer Rouge regime are squeezing back into this world through any available portal.