Family members of popular singer Touch Srey Nich said she appeared to be recovering Thursday from three gunshot wounds she suffered in an attack Tuesday morning.
But as the 24-year-old was being treated in a Bangkok hospital, relatives and friends mourned the death of her mother, Kim Sinoun, 59, who was shot in the attack.
Gathered for a ceremony at the family’s Daun Penh district home, attendees struggled to understand what could motivate an attack on the young singer and literature teacher at the Royal University of Fine Arts.
“I don’t have any idea why someone would try to kill [Touch Srey Nich],” said Seng Phose, her godsister and former art teacher.
Witnesses said a gunman shot Touch Srey Nich at close range—twice in the face, once in the neck
—and fatally shot her mother as she tried to shield her daughter.
The young star was emerging from a flower shop on Monireth Boulevard near Mao Tse-tung Boulevard at the time of the shooting, witnesses said. Police are still looking for the assailants.
The government, which promised to pay all of Touch Srey Nich’s medical expenses, has spent about $40,000 thus far on her treatment, said spokesman Khieu Kanharith.
“She is all right now. She can talk, she will survive,” he said. “We hope when she is better, she will help point out a suspect, and it will be easy to find the perpetrator and arrest him.”
A singer since her youth, Touch Srey Nich is known for romantic songs such as “Seila Cham Bdei,” or “The Rock Waits for a Husband,” about a faithful woman who waits so long for her love that she turns to stone.
She rejected current pop trends, preferring Khmer dress and traditional themes of love and heartache. Another song, “Samay Kalvey Komar” (“The Time of Childhood”), laments the carefree innocence lost between a boy and girl as they become adults.
She had recently finished recording a CD and video CD, Seng Phose said. On Sunday, she appeared on TV9 and performed three songs for a beauty contest. TV9 commentator Chev Virak said he invited Touch Srey Nich, whom he considers a friend.
“When I phoned her for the concert, she seemed friendly and normal. She did not seem concerned,” Chev Virak said.
But Touch Srey Nich also made public pro-Funcinpec performances, and speculation swirling around the attack has led some to believe it was politically motivated. The double shooting follows Saturday’s slaying of a radio journalist for the pro-Funcinpec station Ta Prohm.
“I think the killing was related to politics,” said one singer close to Touch Srey Nich. “She sang a lot of songs for the Funcinpec party.”
She also performed for the Friends of Khmer Kampuchea Krom Association, whose cause has been championed by Funcinpec and opposition officials.
Association Executive Director San Sann offered flowers Tuesday at the funeral of Kim Sinoun. Her body will be cremated at 9:30 am today at Wat Ounalom.
“I would like to see the government arrest the killers and bring them to trial,” said San Sann.
“Touch Srey Nich is very brave. She sings the songs she wants to sing, and she did not fear for her security,” he said.