Soldiers Never Met by King, Left ‘Hopeless’

About 150 disabled soldiers from 317 Military Base, Kien Svay district, Kandal province, failed in an attempt Monday to see King Norodom Sihanouk and ask for aid.

The soldiers and their wives arrived at the Royal Palace early in the morning, and stayed until 3 pm before giving up and going home.

They presented a petition to the Royal Palace security, but Chhorn Hay, the secretary-general of the King’s cabinet, said he hadn’t received any reports concerning the veterans.

The King said earlier this week he still gives a great deal of aid to Cambodians, but his health doesn’t allow him to meet as many people as he did in the past.

“We are here because we are short of food,” said Poa Soeun, a 55-year-old veteran who suffers from head and leg injuries. “Eight members of my family were soldiers.

“Two sons were killed on the battlefield, and my daughter’s husband was killed in 1997.

“Then they took his name off the payroll,” he added, thus de­priving his daughter of a pension.

Theth Thouy, a father of five originally from Banteay Mean­chey province, was disabled by a land mine near Pailin in 1997.

“I had my accident just as the country began its peace,” he said. “All of us here have no land, no house, and at least three children in each family.

“I see villagers go to the pagoda with food for the Festival of the Dead, but I can’t.”

Kim Sarann, a 34-year-old native of Kompong Thom pro­vince, has two disabled hands. He said the military base is flooded, food is in short supply, health conditions are bad and salaries are slow in being paid.

“Finally we decided to come here because we have no choice,” he said.

“We thought the King could provide us some food before we go back. But now we are hopeless because the King will not meet with us.”

The disabled soldiers said they plan to return to the palace today.



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