Ex-military personnel report living in poverty in Banteay Meanchey
province, claiming the govt no longer cares for them despite past
MORE than 600 retired members of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) from Banteay Meanchey province have not received their pensions for more than 15 months, according to a complaint received by the rights group Adhoc.
"I risked my life in war for them - for society - but now, they don't care about me," said Thach Chendathong, 50, who has been retired since 1996, adding that the Department of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation had asked him to stop coming to their building to request his money.
"I will try my best to get my salary, but if I cannot it is my bad luck," he added.
Banteay Meanchey province Governor Ung Oeun said he had not heard of the problem, but would make enquiries at the provincial Department of Social Affairs.
But the Adhoc coordinator in Banteay Meanchey, Soum Chankea, said that the government had forgotten about these people, and that by stopping payments it was putting their families at risk.
"They [ministry officials] don't care about their difficulties, and they consider retired military people useless," he said.
"They are not ghosts that don't need to eat anything. ... They need to eat to live."
Sao Savon, 64, who retired from the military in 2008, is part of the group of former troops who lodged the complaint with Adhoc.
After repeatedly inquiring at the Department of Social Affairs, he said he did not expect the local government to be any more help to veterans
without the support of a rights group.
"Why don't they give us our salary? When I went to meet them to ask about my salary, they said, ‘We do not have it. Please go back to your home'.... I didn't want to complain to the provincial governor, because he would have the same answer," Sao Savon said.
"They don't care about what happens to us or about our difficulties. I have not received my salary more than a year, and I live a very difficult life with my children," he added.