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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sick Of Robberies

Sick Of Robberies

I am a doctor. I have come to Cambodia to treat sick people and to teach. On Fri.,

Feb. 26th at 2 p.m. in Trapaing Khlong Village, Danbok Roung Commune, Phnom Srouch

District, my three Khmer assistants and I were detained for an hour and robbed. The

robbers were armed with automatic weapons, we were armed with malarial pills. We

were carrying out a normal NGO community health visit in a so called Government area.

There had been no infringement of demarcation zones. The robbers were three uniformed

NADK soldiers. They were identified as such by the assistants, the villagers, and

by the soldiers themselves. They took watches, money, and the assistants neck-chains

and our drug supplies. Many villagers looked on in silence. Disgust was written all

over their faces.

So..just another robbery. You don't have to come to Cambodia for that-it could occur

in New York, Bangkok, Rome or Van-couver. What was so obvious however was the harm

the incident did for the organization which the robbers represented. Our visit was

purely medical and health educational. There was no political component of any kind.

The villagers had greeted us warmly and happily. We were all enjoying each others

company, talking, laughing and educating when the soldiers arrived. How much better

it would have been for the NADK or any other political faction who might have been

present to welcome us to assist us a bit in our work and perhaps then arrange for

another visit before we went. How much that would have been appreciated by the village

and how much good publicity for the political organization whose uniforms were being

worn. Instead, that priceless commodity was all thrown away for a couple of watches,

some riels and Paraceta-mol tablets. They brought fear, disillusionment and disgust

and have now by their actions sent out the message all over the district that the

NADK prefers a few western trinkets over help for the sick and suffering and the

prevention of disease.

There is no political message in this letter. Some, reading it will be pleased, others

cynical at my expectations, others perhaps disappointed. I have no idea if NADK or

representatives of any other political groups read these pages or not. My plea to

any group however is-please sometimes put the sick and suffering and uneducated above

your political aspirations. Why not wear your uniforms as 'ambassadors to your cause'

and not as apocalyptic shrouds. Wouldn't it make you proud to be immediately identifiable

as a bringer of order, assistance and friendliness..? One kind action goes a great

distance, many will help create utopia.

And finally a last request to the NADK-can I have my watch back please. I need it

to measure pulse rates...

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