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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - A hard soldier and man of few words

A hard soldier and man of few words

A hard soldier and man of few words

U NG Samy is a soldier. From time to time the CPP governor of Battambang likes to

dress in his former uniform.

When he went to visit the front line a few days before the last dry season offensive

in January he would encounter his friends and former colleagues.

Along Route 10, he discussed strategy with post commanders and checked whether they

had everything they needed. He made sure to bring along mosquito nets, packaged noodle

soup or kramas that soldiers would need.

After discussions were over, Ung Samy and the soldiers would celebrate the beginning

of the dry season offensive with rice wine and a bottle of Hennessy.

Samy insisted that others in his administration did the same at other military bases

in the province.

The Battambang provincial governor recalls proudly his first occupation. "I

have been a soldier for more than twenty years," he said. "Don't fight

me. I would never be scared to fight back."

Ung Samy seems a man of few words. He lets others speak about him. In Battambang

he is surrounded by a legend which says he entered the town before the Vietnamese

forces in January 1979. Some citizens view him as Battambang's liberator from the

Khmer Rouge.

Some members of the CPP call him the "stable man". His short, stocky physique

no doubt enhances an aura of authority.

"I used to work with him," said one CPP civil servant. "He has little

education but good character and he is firm. He never changes. He obeys the orders

given from the top."

Samy comes from a village near the border of Svay Rieng and Kompong Cham provinces.

He is a nephew of National Assembly chairman and CPP stalwart Chea Sim, and for that

has received a lot of respect from the people surrounding him.

In 1987, Ung Samy was appointed governor of the province after having worked with

the regional military forces.

Prior to the 1993 elections, UNTAC accused Samy of involvement in extra-judicial

killings against members of Funcinpec and BLDP and asked for his removal, a move

with which the CPP was opposed to complying.

UN documents also accused Ung Samy of involvement in the S-21 group that was allegedly

responsible for murders, intimidation, and torture during UNTAC and afterwards into

1994, accusations Samy steadfastly denies.

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