Shot Singer May Return To Cambodia

Government officials are mulling over whether to send popular singer Touch Srey Nich, who was shot three times by unknown assailants in late October, back to Cambodia since she has so far been unresponsive to treatment at a Bangkok hospital, a government spokesman said Sunday.

The government sent a delegation to Thailand to examine Touch Srey Nich on Sunday and will decide whether to bring her back to Phnom Penh, government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said.

He added that the government was considering whether she could then be sent to France for further treatment. Though the singer can breathe through a respirator, he said, Thai doctors could not repair her spinal cord.

“We have already sent her condition document to doctors in France [to see] whether they can treat her. The doctors in Thailand don’t have the ability to treat her,” Khieu Kanharith said.

He said, however, that the government is afraid that if Touch Srey Nich dies in France after sending her there, it would be too costly to fly her body back to Cambodia.

Touch Srey Nich, 24, was shot twice in the face and once in the neck the morning of Oct 21, as she was emerging from a flower shop on Monireth Boulevard, near Mao Tse-tung Boulevard. She was airlifted to Bangkok later the same night. Her mother, Kim Sinoun, 59, was also shot in the attack and died later at Calmette Hospital. No arrests have been made.

Since then, government officials have reported that the singer remains in critical condition in Bangkok and is paralyzed from the neck down. The government had promised to pay for all of her medical bills.

Mu Sochua, the minister of Women’s and Veterans’ Affairs, visited Touch Srey Nich in late November. At the time, she said doctors had told her the singer had developed septicemia, a blood disease caused by toxic products left by the bullets.

Khieu Kanharith said Sunday he did not know when Touch Srey Nich could return to Cam­bodia.

But a receptionist at Preah Bath Sihanouk Hospital, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the hospital had been preparing to receive the singer since last week, after it was informed that she would be transferred there. The receptionist said she has not yet been transferred.

Meanwhile, Mu Sochua rejected the government’s idea to bring Touch Srey Nich back to Cambodia, saying local medical services here are not as advanced as in Thailand.

“If the Thai doctors don’t have the ability to treat her, why would the government send her back to Cambodia?” Mu Sochua said. She added: “The government should do its best to send her to Switzerland or France.”

The singer’s godsister Seng Phose said her family did not know when or if Touch Srey Nich would be transferred to Cambodia.

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