PM Defends Pailin Aid in Written Retort

First Prime Minister Ung Huot’s office has responded testily to criticism by royal confidante and satirist Ruom Ritt over the premier’s donation to form­­er Khmer Rouge cadre Ieng Sary.

“Ung Huot has provided $50,000 for a hospital building [in Pailin]. This contribution was not made for Khmer Rouge for­ces…because Pailin has become a Cambodian province after the [rebels’] defection,” wrote Chan Dara, an adviser to Ung Huot, in a statement released Saturday.

The statement disputed Ruom Ritt’s claims that the former rebel territory could provide for itself and that the people of Pailin are “as poor as any other people in the country.”

Pailin, a former Khmer Rouge territory now under government control, is known as the country’s gem capital, where many have purportedly made fortunes from the abundance of precious stones.

Ruom Ritt’s criticisms of Ung Huot came in a Feb 25 letter to King Norodom Sihanouk.

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