Friends of Pop Star Protest Proposed Move

A close family friend of Touch Srey Nich said Tuesday that the critically injured karaoke star was upset that the Cambodian government is considering returning her from Bangkok to Phnom Penh for ongoing medical treatment, Agence France Presse reported.

“Government officials told us the state didn’t want to pay the hospital expenses anymore and wanted to repatriate her to a clinic in Cambodia,” Chen Sakmony was quoted as saying by AFP.

“She cries as she knows in Cambodia there are no major hospitals,” he said. “I would like her to be moved to a state hospital in Thailand.”

Unknown assailants shot Touch Srey Nich, 24, twice in the face and once in the neck in an Oct 21 attack that also killed the singer’s 59-year-old mother, Kim Sinoun.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Sunday that a government delegation had gone to Bangkok to examine the pop star’s condition and consider her repatriation. He also said that she so far had been unresponsive to treatment.

Om Yentieng, adviser to Prime Min­ister Hun Sen on human rights, said Tuesday that the location of Touch Srey Nich’s medical treatment is not up to the government.

“The government cannot de­cide whether to bring her back or not. It is up to her father to de­cide,” he said.

He added that the government had covered the singer’s hospital bills so far because it was committed to her recovery and the capture of her attackers.

Asked if the government would continue sponsoring her treatment, Om Yentieng said, “I don’t know. You should ask her father.”

Members of Funcinpec have voiced suspicion that Touch Srey Nich may have been attacked for her alignment with their party, as she performed pro-royalist songs.

Funcinpec Minister of Woman’s Affairs Mu Sochua has rejected the possibility of returning Touch Srey Nich to Cambodian, telling AFP that Cambodia lacks adequate medical facilities.

No suspects have been arrested for the attack.


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