Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM pledges new health centre over US bombs

PM pledges new health centre over US bombs

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Victims that claiming being affected by tear gas seek treatment on Tuesday in Svay Rieng province. Photo supplied

PM pledges new health centre over US bombs

In a speech to some 15,000 garment workers in Phnom Penh yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen returned to the topic of the United States’ war legacy in Cambodia, pledging to build a health centre for people purportedly suffering the after-effects of American chemical weapons in Svay Rieng province’s Koki commune.

Two barrels containing the tear gas CS were discovered in the commune in January, and removed earlier this month. Authorities say they have discovered 15 additional tear gas bombs, and health officials have blamed chemicals for sickening a handful of villagers, prompting a visit from Health Minister Mam Bunheng, who last week called for a health centre.

“Now we need to create the health care zone and find a way to neutralise the chemical weapons, and we will include local people in the [health] equity programme for free medical care,” the premier said. The centre would cater to the area’s 4,000 residents but would be free for those believed affected by chemical weapons, Bunheng said.

While lashing out at the US government for its pre-Khmer Rouge military role, Hun Sen also claimed that people’s health was affected in several other communes of Romeas Hek district, which he didn’t name.

“Have they [the US] thought about human rights and democracy? Our people in many communes got big heads and abnormal eyes and their body is itchy . . . Have you [the US] thought about that when you pulled the trigger to shoot and kill us?” the premier asked.

The symptoms of birth defects Hun Sen described may be related to Agent Orange, the defoliant dropped by American planes, but there isn’t scientific evidence that CS causes such deformities, though skin irritation is possible.

Provincial Health Department head Ke Roth said doctors and officials were not sure what had caused the skin problems among patients.

“We do not dare conclude that all of those people are affected by chemical substances . . . We know that normal people also can be infected with skin diseases as well,” he said.

In response to the premier’s repeated criticism of the US, Embassy deputy spokesman David Josar pointed to a September 13 security message “noting rising tensions and anti-American rhetoric”.

“That said, we remain proud of our continued partnership with the government, business, educators, civil society leaders, and thousands of ordinary Cambodians,” he wrote.

MOST VIEWED

  • The hairy little heroes saving many lives in rural Cambodia

    IN RURAL Siem Reap province, rats dare to tread where no person will, as these hairy little heroes place their lives on the line each day for the good of the local community. The rodents are the most important members of a special team, leading

  • Hun Sen’s China visit ‘a good opportunity’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen’s visit to Beijing on Sunday to discuss economic and trade issues presents a good opportunity for the Kingdom to strengthen Chinese ties and counter punitive measures by the West, an analyst says. The prime minister’s four-day official visit to

  • Former chief bodyguard receives royal pardon

    The former chief bodyguard of late Senate president Chea Sim has received a royal pardon nearly eight years after he was sentenced to 15 years behind bars on several charges, according to a royal decree dated November 12, last year, and obtained by The Post on Wednesday.

  • PM warns EU and opposition on 34th anniversary of his rule

    HUN Sen reached the milestone of 34 years as Cambodian prime minister on Monday and used the groundbreaking ceremony for a new ring road around Phnom Penh to tell the international community that putting sanctions on the Kingdom meant killing the opposition. “Please don’t forget