Minister of Interior Sar Kheng has revealed that the government spends about $300 million a year to support more than 100,000 civilian and veteran retirees and their dependents, and will continue to do so in appreciation of their contributions to ending the war and bringing peace.

At a meeting with civilian retirees and veterans in Battambang province on May 16, Sar Kheng, who is also the Cambodian Veterans Association (CVA) vice-president, said the support has been financed through a partner banking system across the country.

Sar Kheng said the government has set out and implemented various policies to improve the quality of life of civilian retirees, veterans and their families, including the provision of social land concessions, cremation allowances and social security, and had established the Centre for the Development of Disabled Veterans.

But despite the achievements in improving the welfare of this group of Cambodians, he said there were still many issues that needed to be addressed.

He cited a need to provide the group with expanded vocational training services so that retired civilians and veterans have the capacity and ability to improve their lives, calling on development partners and philanthropists to work together to offer this.

The minister noted that after the fall of the Pol Pot regime in 1979, the remaining forces rallied against the People’s Republic of Kampuchea in an attempt to bring the genocidal regime back.

He said the retirees and veterans who joined the struggle against the return of the regime were responsible for ending the war and building peace, adding that their “patriotic spirit was clear” and that life in Cambodia today is the result of their sacrifice.

“The achievements we have today are because of all of you … This is a fact, and that is why the government that was born from the CPP [Cambodian People’s Party] must take care to solve your problems through its committee and mechanisms, and we will continue to do this,” he said.