Royal Palace, Opposition Help the Poor

In a timely show of aid, the Royal Palace, the Sam Rainsy Party and the municipality joined efforts to help some, 300 poor people get home for the Pchum Ben holiday, Sam Rainsy said Sunday.

Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara hired 44 trucks to take the flood and drought victims and alms seekers home.

Only 25 of the trucks were needed, Chea Sophara said.

According to Sam Rainsy, the Royal Palace provided every healthy adult and child among the 1,300 with 10 kg of rice, and handicapped people and pregnant women with 20 kg each.

To supplement the King’s donation of rice, the party handed out soy sauce, condensed milk, can­ned fish, dry noodles, sugar and salt.

The increasing number of aid seekers from the provinces has been a source of contention the past few weeks.

On Aug 21, about 600 poor farmers claimed they were turned away from the Royal Palace, a charge palace officials denied.

The next day, Sam Rainsy stormed out of a National Assem­bly meeting and led the group on a protest march to the gates of several aid organizations.

On Aug 29, the group of aid-seekers, now swollen to roughly 1,000, was driven from its camp near Wat Botum by municipal police.

They moved to Wat Svay Pope, but were driven from that location the next day by municipal police again.

Some people went home, but others continued to arrive from the provinces.

Most of them have been staying inside the Sam Rainsy Party compound, too poor to finance their own way home.

The US embassy donated plastic sheeting to the group for temporary shelter until arrangements were made to ship them back to the provinces.

“Everyone agrees that the best thing is to try to get these folks back home,” US Ambassador Kent Wiedemann said. “If they stay where they are, we can pretty much guarantee that we’ll get [help] to them.”



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