A TV9 talent show winner who was the victim of a December acid attack returned to Phnom Penh last week after more than 20 days of treatment and recovery in a Vietnamese hospital, the victim’s mother said Sunday.
On December 15, 16-year-old Hang Srey Leak was leaving a Daun Penh district beauty salon when two men – whom police later identified as her cousins – pulled up on a motorcycle and poured half a litre of acid on her face, limbs and body.
Soam Sichoun, the victim’s mother, said her daughter was taken to Calmette hospital immediately after the attack, but that the severity of her wounds made it necessary to seek treatment in Vietnam.
“I decided to send my daughter to a Vietnamese hospital when I saw that her wounds were not improving. I wanted to take her to a country with the technology to restore as much of her former appearance as possible,” Soam Sichoun said, adding that she sold much of the property owned by the family in order to pay for her daughter’s surgery, which included the partial reconstruction of an ear using tissue from her daughter’s back.
“I have spent more than US$10,000 to treat Srey Leak’s injuries, and we are still looking at further procedures to remove the scars. I want my
daughter to return to the contest finals in April, which is why we’ve sacrificed so much for this process.”
In November, Hang Srey Leak was crowned one of the winners of High Star, TV9’s weekly talent show. The girl’s two cousins, who have since been imprisoned, said they attacked Hang Srey Leak after she supposedly acted in a condescending and arrogant manner towards their sister, according to police.
“I want to drop the complaint and let them free, but I cannot because I am afraid they will exact revenge on my daughter,” Soam Sichoun said. “They are still angry with my family, especially with my daughter,” she said.
On Sunday, Hang Srey Leak said that she was still living in fear over one month after the attack. “I can’t leave my house because I feel like it just happened to me,” she said.
“I know that my wounds have not healed completely, but I hope they will be better when I return to [High Star] this year. I want to come in first place in the finals, and to support me in this, my family is trying hard to help me look even more beautiful than before.”
Chev Virak, a TV9 producer and the production director for High Star, said that despite the attack on Hang Srey Leak, she would not be allowed to compete in the talent show finals in April if she “still has big scars on her body”.