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Disabled soldiers say official skimmed pay

THE representative of 28 disabled soldiers, who have complained about reductions in their salaries since 2007, has accused a senior public official of pocketing the money himself.

Yan Ny, 44, said Tuesday he would sue the deputy director of the Banteay Meanchey Department of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, Em Nuy, who he said had tried but failed to buy his silence.

“Em Nuy met me in secret and asked me to drop the complaint in exchange for all of my missing salary, but I told him that I could not betray other disabled soldiers,” he said.

The soldiers said Em Nuy had stolen between 30,000 and 50,000 riels (US$12) per month from each of them for around three years and had threatened to steal more, or remove them entirely from the payroll, if they didn’t keep quiet.

Em Nuy rejected the allegations on Tuesday, saying he would meet with the soldiers to clear up the matter.

“I have never reduced their salary at all, not even by 100 riels, since I have worked here, but they accused me of reducing their salary by 20,000 to 30,000 riels per month,” he said.

He said the reduction in the soldiers’ salary was due to the loss of child support payments that the soldiers automatically stopped receiving when their children turned 18 years old.

But Chhuy Keang Thoung, the chief of Phnom Leab commune, also said Em Nuy had reduced the soldiers’ salaries.

“I will meet with the officials from the Department of Social Affairs on Tuesday evening to talk about this problem, but they are also going to set a date to meet with the representative of the disabled soldiers to end this issue,” he said.

The soldiers are supposed to receive 170,000 riels in salary per month plus an additional 120,000 riels from Prime Minister Hun Sen, Yan Ny said.

Cambodian law prevents state employees from retiring before they reach the age of 50, which means the 28 soldiers from Preah Net Preah district must receive a salary instead of a pension, despite being physically unable to work.

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