Pailin Soldiers’ Salary Supposedly Cut for Flood Victims

pailin – Soldier Chhorn Sokan last week obtained permission from his commander to do other work for a while because his salary was cut for October and November to help the country’s flood victims.

This week he began working as a carpenter, earning a little more than $2 a day. He hopes he can find enough work to at least match the $18 a month he received from his soldier’s salary.

“My commander told me they need to take my salary to help flood victims in Kandal province,” Chhorn Sokan said. “I’m very angry, but I don’t know what to do. I don’t know when I will receive my salary again.”

Other Pailin soldiers also said they were told by their commanders that they would not receive salaries for October and November to help the flood victims.

But military commanders denied they told soldiers their pay would be cut. They acknowledged that the salary for September and October was delayed due to the money spent on flood relief, but said the soldiers’ pay will get to them once they receive the funds.

Ek Samoun, deputy commander of military region 5, which covers Pailin, said there is no policy to cut soldier’s salaries for flood relief.

“I want to explain to all the soldiers to not be confused about this,” he said. “We did not yet get the salary for September and October because it is late, but we will give it to the soldiers as soon as it comes.”

Chav Khan, deputy chief of Pailin’s cabinet, and Yim Set, deputy commander of Division 22 in Pailin, also said there was no policy to cut soldiers’ pay.

Ngy Tayi, undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Finance, confirmed that many government employees have not received pay for September and October because of flood re­lief activities, but their salary has not been cut.

“The payroll is delayed because the money is needed to help those who have suffered from the flood,” he said. “This happened unexpectedly for our budget plan.”

But Kong Samrach, a Pailin soldier, said he was clearly told that his $15 monthly pay for October and November were cut, not de­layed, to help flood victims. He said he is upset because he no longer has enough money to support his family, including his new born baby.

“I’m very angry when [Prime Minister] Hun Sen said he is giving money to the flood victims because it’s not his money, it’s my money,” Kong Samrach said. “He is not being truthful.”

It is unclear how many of Pailin’s 2,500 soldiers had their pay cut for flood relief because officials say it is not a government policy. But the handful of soldiers who were interviewed this week said they know of dozens of others who also had their pay cut.

Kong Rith had to become a mototaxi driver this month because his $15 monthly pay for October and November was cut.

“We no longer have confidence in our commanders,” he said. “I think a little bit of money went to the flood victims and most of it went into people’s pockets.”

Roth Chin also believes his $14 monthly pay for October and November did not reach flood victims as he was told, and he does not know what will happen next month. He was told by his commanders that the pay cut may be extended into December.

“All the soldiers have a bad feeling about this,” he said. “Since integration, we have received nothing. How can we live like this?”

(Additional reporting by Ham Samnang)

 

 

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