IN the second high-profile killing in a week, famous singer and actress Touch Srey
Nich was shot in broad daylight on October 21 along with her mother, who later died.
The daughter of slain Funcinpec journalist Chou Chetharith burns paper money to honor her father at his funeral on October 22. His portrait is behind her. Chetharith, a reporter for the Royalist Ta Prohm radio, which Prime Minister Hun Sen recently criticized for its 'insulting' broadcasts, was gunned down outside the station on October 18.
Nich, 24, was shot twice in the face and another bullet lodged in her spine during
the attack by several men at 11:20 am near the InterContinental Hotel. She was rushed
to the emergency room at Preah Sihanouk Hospital and later flown to Bangkok around
2:00 am the next day, according to Mu Sochua, Minister of Women's and Veterans' Affairs
Her mother, Kim Sinoun, 62, died at Calmette Hospital 20 minutes after her arrival.
Three days earlier, a pro-Funcinpec reporter, Chuor Chetharith, was gunned down outside
his office at Ta Prohm radio in Phnom Penh.
Nich underwent surgery at Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok on October 22. She was accompanied
by Khieu Thavika, a spokesperson for the Council of Ministers. On the morning of
October 23 she was in critical but stable condition, said government spokesman Khieu
The motives behind the shootings are not clear, but the work was clearly done by
professionals, said a Funcinpec security official in the National Assembly. He said
recent killings, including that of Chetharith, were probably premeditated assassinations.
He said several men dressed in civilian clothes carried out the attack on Nich and
her mother. One of the assailants approached the women as they left a flower shop
and opened fire when they tried to enter their car.
Mu Sochua said in a press conference on October 23 that the government must track
down the killers.
"CPP is the party that has power and who leads the government," she said.
"It is the duty of the government to solve the problem they are facing and find
The Alliance of Democrats released a statement on October 21 saying that Nich sang
for the causes of Kampuchea Krom, the southern region of Vietnam that once belonged
"This special song collection deals with the issues of corruption, border issues,
and sufferings of the Khmer minorities in Vietnam," it stated. The Funcinpec
party played her songs during the election campaign.
Touch Srey Nich, known as Touch Sunnich, also sang in Prince Norodom Ranariddh's
film "Raj Borei" in 2002 and recorded a theme song for the Ministry of
Women's and Veteran's Affairs called "Neary Rattanak", which means "Women
are Precious Gems".
On her latest album, one song describes a monk who betrays Khmer Buddhist culture
to the Vietnamese, causing the burning of the Chan Raingsey pagoda in Kampuchea Krom.
The song depicts the destruction of the pagoda by yuon-a term for Vietnamese seen
by some as derogatory-who enter the pagoda while throwing grenades and burn it down.
Following the destruction, the song encourages Khmer men to make sacrifices for their
nation and religion.
Ok Socheat, deputy secretary general for Funcinpec, said Nich was financially independent
and had not been romantically involved with anyone who might order her murder, as
"Srey Nich is good person, she has never had any conflict with anyone,"
he said. "This shooting, and that of the journalist, is to threaten the Ta Prohm
radio station," which had insulted CPP in recent months.
The shooting follows two others in October that have left two Funcinpec members dead,
according to the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee.
Chuor Chetharith, an editor at Ta Prohm radio station, was shot just one day before
Funcinpec activist Dos Hut was killed in Kampot province by a local police officer
on October 19. The organization did not conclude if the killings were political.
In response to the killings, the government has heightened police presence on the
streets. Hun Sen issued an order to the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defense
to tighten security around embassies, international organizations' headquarters,
foreign businesses and media offices.