Fed up with land grabbing and salary cuts in Preah Vihear, an anonymous border soldier submitted more than just his vote in a ballot box in Siem Reap’s Varin district on Sunday.
A handwritten letter from a Royal Cambodian Armed Forces border soldier stationed in Division 8 in Preah Vihear was found among the ballots at polling station 1115 in Varin’s Lvea Kraing commune, alleging RCAF commanders of illegally cutting soldiers’ salaries and encroaching on land set aside for the soldiers.
Chhoeum Bun Chung, CNRP’s working group chief to Varin, said the letter was found while the Commune Election Committee was counting ballots on Sunday afternoon.
“The letter is for Prime Minister Hun Sen, asking for an intervention over corruption committed by commanders,” Bun Chung said.
Based on a photograph of the letter snapped by Bun Chung, a portion reads, “Please inform Samdech and ask for intervention into corruption among [RCAF] commanders who cut our salaries by 28,000 riel ($7) a month unreasonably, taking 10 to 15 hectares of our land rations, and building our homes with low-quality wood instead of good timber.”
This was the writer’s way to make known the oppression the soldiers have been experiencing at the garrisons recently, said Kie Pheuy, an election observer for the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Lvea Kraing commune.
“It states that the higher-ranking soldiers are colluding and selling the soldiers’ rice and canned fish rations, causing a lack of food for the soldiers to eat. Whoever currently has the letter, please pass it on to Hun Sen,” Pheuy said, adding that volunteer students who measured the land for the soldiers are also to blame for the corruption.
Pheuy also noted that out of the 692 soldiers from Preah Vihear registered to vote in Sunday’s election, 655 cast their vote.
The CPP received a staggering 612 votes to the CNRP’s 27 at polling station 1115, according to Pheuy.
Division 8 commanders were not available for comment yesterday.