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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Disabled soldiers protest pension cuts

Disabled soldiers protest pension cuts

The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation will investigate

claims that a Prey Veng official unfairly cut pensions from widows and families of

disabled soldiers.

A letter including the thumb prints of more than 100 disabled veterans was sent to

the Minister of Social Affairs accusing Yin Saroeun, chief of Prey Veng's social

affairs office, of reducing their salary by 20,000 riel ($ 5) each month from January

to April. The letter was intended to represent more than 1,000 disabled veterans

in the province.

In a telephone interview with the Post, Saroeun said he did not cut the disabled

soldiers salaries, but acted after an audit to verify the number of disabled veterans

in the province found irregularities.

Tieng Sakhan, deputy chief of social affairs, said the ministry discovered that more

than 2,000 family members of deceased veterans in the province were no longer eligible

for benefits - mostly children over 19 years of age and widows who have remarried.

Saroeun said the government was losing about 20 million riel ($5,000) each month

in unnecessary payments.

Disabled veterans typically receive between 60,000 riel and 100,000 riel depending

on their former rank, while widows are eligible for 3,200 riel a month and their

children can get 4,000 riel.

There are approximately 95,000 war veterans across the country.

To further complicate the Prey Veng dispute, Sakhan claims that the quarrel is being

inflamed by money lenders who gave cash advances to poor veteran families in return

for their monthly payments.

"The problem is not caused by the officials and the veteran's families, but

it comes from the people who buy their names," Sakhan said.

Saroeun said he believes the money lenders convinced the families to thumbprint a

document they claimed would advocate for their pensions to be continued, but then

used the thumb prints in the complaint against him.

The investigation will begin next week and take approximately one week to complete.

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