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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Lifesaving Secrets

Lifesaving Secrets

I want to reveal that in the Pol Pot time, keeping the secret of oneself could save

your life.

I was a state secondary male nurse and had served for 18 months in the military which

was obligatory for all civil servants in the Lon Nol regime. During these 18 months

I did not once go to the battlefields. In the mornings, I went to every principal

hospital to do the records of the dead and wounded and reported to the unit headquarters

that I served in.

With some friends in the afternoons, we went to watch the films at almost every cinema

in the capital by sitting at the side rows reserved for free of charge watchers.

In the evening, I studied privately at the ETAPP (English Teachers Association Phnom

Penh) just in front of the Olympic compound. Around 1974, I turned to the civilian

life again until the collapse of the Lon Nol regime.

At the end of 1976, I was married among 12 other couples at the same time for the

official recognition; bride and groom must stand for the clapping of hands of the

team leaders and other Angkar representatives.

The provision of new black clothes, kramas and the car tyre flip-flop shoes were

normal for this special event. If the wedding had been delayed until 1977, I couldn't

be with my wife, because of the class division. I was among the new people (new location),

and my wife was among the old people (old location) in the area, and for the qualification

in the year of 1977, the old people must wed with the old people and the new people

must wed with the new people strictly. Those who were already engaged but not yet

been officially recognised, were broken apart.

Even though we were already husband and wife, I didn't reveal that I had served in

the military in Lon Nol regime, because some of the relatives of my wife were among

the team leaders of Angkar.

One evening, there was a big meeting at the working place, around 100 people. After

the propaganda the team leader called me and showed me five different kinds of medicines

and asked me to tell if I knew them or not. He used the trick of erasing some key

letters in words, like Becozyme he erased the vowels e and o and the last e for Atropine.

He erased the first half of other intact words Camphosulfonate, Strychnine and Vitamin

B1.

I could reveal all those five medicines kinds with their respective physiological

effects on the human body.

One person told the similar experience of his uncle, a former colonel around 50 years

old who was an artisan worker. The Angkar urged him to make a hermetically sealed

box with a cover; he was able to do it at once, because he had been the chief artisan

in the army before, so he joined the artisan group of Angkar, He had rice to eat

at the time that everybody else had rice soup or porridge.

In Pol Pot regime, the first target people to kill were those from the military services

of any ranks, the other types came later.

Until the collapse of Pol Pot regime in the end of 1979, I had been introduced into

the Provincial Health System again. My wife and the families in the area, had known

of my background in the military from the others.

I still remember the speeches of Professor Chhea Thaing (Provincial Health Director

of Kratie) on October 5,1979 that by working in the technical area, by means of the

in job training or the proper course term training, one could raise his self-esteem

to the higher knowledge and responsibilities, and not be a nurse his whole life.

Dr Chuong Seng Ly, MD,CRR,DAP&E

Vice Director,

Provincial Health Department,

Kratie

Correction:

The Post apologises for some editing errors that appeared in M. Claude Rabour's letter

(Post October 8). "Impolite" should read "implicit", "phantom"

should read "phantasm", and "Asia and Middle East" should read

"Asia (Middle East)".

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