Selected Comments Samdech Techo Hun Sen at the Meeting with Handicapped Soldiers at 317 Kulen Maimed Soldiers Centre

[ Unofficial Translation]

More Attentions Paid on Soldiers with Disability and Veterans

It is a great pleasure for me that my wife and I, with other leaders, have come back again to meet with all of you after our meeting last year also before the Khmer New Year. I have listened to the report by the Director of the (317 Kulen Maimed Soldiers Centre) with regard to its development. I also have chance to talk to a soldiers and a maimed soldiers in the group sitting in front of us about salary, pension and other entitled regimes. I satisfy with the way the management has been doing for our soldiers. That may include also other national institutions such as the Ministry of Economy and Finance, which provides, through the logistic department of the Ministry of National Defense, salary – adding up with increase and Khmer New Year bonus – in a timely manner. According to information that I gathered here the minimum salary or pension here is no less than one million Riel.

It is indeed a great thing that we have been able to set up the centre that provides shelter and residence for our mimed soldiers. That I have come here I still have not had chance to make it to other centers such as Ta Ken Koh Sla and Phnom Chhat. Though I have not been able to go to inaugurate the centre in Phnom Chhat, I have report that they have been doing very well in putting up a centre and buildings homes for maimed soldiers. I also have many orphanages and centers of handicap children to visit too. In the last years, we have been paying more attention and doing more works for people with disability not only though residing in the centers but also through veteran associations to provide homes construction. Maimed soldiers may have homestead land and we provide them with materials and/or money to build their own homes.

National Peace Inseparable from Sacrifices of Maimed Soldiers

A maimed soldier in Siem Reap commented in my Facebook account. I do not know if he is residing in this center or not. He talked about the fact that the Royal Government has provided him a house and he told me about his two children, one who studied with the Hun Sen scholarships and finished tertiary education and the other is in his third year. We have indeed paid attentions to families and families’ members of soldiers with disabilities and veterans. We are not able regain losing parts of our body. You are not able to get back your foot or hand, or arms, and I will not get back my eye. In three more days, 16 April 2017, it will be the 42ndanniversary that I lost one of my eyes in 1975. That eye is not going to return. However, I can stand up and prevent myself from falling into physical disability and poor mental condition.

There have been many examples of maimed/disabled soldiers have overcome their difficulties and provided chances for their children to continue their studies. Some of them have finished their tertiary educations and found jobs for themselves. I must keep on appealing to every disabled soldier, the veterans included, to stand up for your dignity, your family, and your children’s proud future. I am calling on wives of maimed soldiers to take no shame of being their partners. When you are becoming couples, either before or after your marriage, please do not leave them. I am calling on maimed soldiers to take no blame on own selves for being maimed fathers but be proud for sacrificing their flesh and blood for the motherland.

Though Disabled, We Can Still Do It

That the country is now in peace is inseparable from sacrifices of those fathers. Some of our disabled soldiers have not married yet and I hope that you will find good partners. However, I must warn you not to fall into the state of mental handicap. As for me, you know that I lost one of my eyes in time of difficulties under the regime of Pol Pot, which was nothing good compared to the present day situation, when you have the attention and care from the Royal Government of Cambodia, especially the Cambodian People’s Party.

I thank my wife for keeping her commitment to me, even though I lost my eyesight. I wish our disabled families to see this value. Physical condition is indeed what everyone needs to be fit and comfortable. No one would want his/her arms or legs cut off, or eye taken out. As a soldier maimed in war and later lived under the regime of Pol Pot, I had made it my struggle to stand up and it has proven that it is not true that only being fit physically that you can do the job. I have come across so many circumstances and until today, some immoral beings still addressed me as the blind. It is painful to be called like that. It is an insult to not only me but also many deaf and blind people.

CPP and RGC Not Abandon Soldiers with Disability and Veterans

I am grateful to efforts made by our maimed soldiers in the center. According to the report of the director, I have learnt that there have been contributions to build a Buddhist pagoda. I have also learnt that some houses are inaccessible to water. I am sure my wife (as President of the Cambodian Red Cross) will look into the matter. We must do whatever we can to make water accessible to them even if we have to dig a well for each house. I am urging the Ministry of Rural Development to take charge of digging more wells. Some soldiers who have severe disabilities, they may need a well in their houses. You can rest assured that the Cambodian People’s Party and the Royal Government of Cambodia will not abandon you. With limited resource ability, we will continue to respond to your conditional requirements.

… We will continue with salary increase. You may note that when the overall salary for civil servants and the armed forces increase, you also will receive the advantage. However, I am calling on your personal efforts to work on and make use of the land provided to you and your families. Wells provided will not only serve the need for daily consumption but also for family cropping. I urge that teachers and medical practitioners pay attention to helping children of maimed soldiers so that they can have proper education and good health […] it is my advice that the management will maintain pride of the soldiers who had sought peace for the country. They should not neglect their management duty and leave the center to be a gambling place. Any debts accrued from gambling would be detrimental to personal and family life. It will not bring peace and prosperity to you./.