Former Khmer Rouge soldiers in Pailin disgruntled about slashed salaries have been quieted after wages were reinstated this week, military officials said Thursday.
After cutting the salaries of more than 1,000 soldiers by 270 baht ($7.20) per month for three months, former Khmer Rouge general Chhun Nhib said he will reinstate the 670 baht ($18) per month salaries following a meeting Wednesday. Thai baht is regularly used in the area.
“We agree that there will be no salary cut from now on,” Chhun Nhib, the commander of division 22, said Thursday by telephone.
Military Region 5 Commander Bun Seng, a CPP appointee, confirmed that the soldiers had been placated with promises of reinstated pay.
Soldiers distributed leaflets in Pailin last month, claiming that division 22 finance officers were personally profiting by withholding more than a third of each combatant’s salary, said Bun Seng, who is based in the northwestern town of Battambang, some 60 km from Pailin.
In an April 13 letter sent to RCAF Deputy Commander-in-Chief Meas Sophea, the soldiers threatened to rally outside Pailin city hall, officials said.
Bun Seng said that division 22 withheld wages from its troops because it did not have enough funds to conduct routine border patrols, resettle soldiers and perform training exercises.
He said it is normal for RCAF units to withhold soldiers’ salaries during training exercises to cover food and shelter costs. But he said if soldiers resist, commanders also have a responsibility to make them understand why the wages are being cut.
Chhun Nhib defended the salary cuts, saying division 22 officers agreed on the temporary move to provide food and other basic needs to the troops. He blamed Phea Man, the chief of the division’s second bureau, for inciting the soldiers to write the letter and distribute the leaflets.
Both Chhun Nhib and Bun Seng criticized the soldiers for writing to Phnom Penh about the problem, saying that their local and regional commanders first should have been contacted.
The general said that his men will not be compensated for the three months of reduced wages.
“There will be no compensation,” Chhun Nhib said.