Ex-CNRP official questioned after helping 83-year-old

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Som Borey (left) said the 83-year-old came to his house and asked him to help post on Facebook because the authority refused to pay the government subsidies. Photo supplied

A former Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) official presented himself for questioning to Rukhak Kiri district police on July 23, regarding his post on Facebook about an elderly woman who had an IDPoor card but did not receive a government subsidy.

Som Borey, the former first deputy chief of Prek Chik commune, told The Post the police questioned him for hours about why he had uploaded his Facebook post on July 10.

“I was asked to comment on the defamation of the commune chief. But I told the district police chief that I did not defame anyone and I only intended to let leaders know that she is 83 and has an IDPoor card,” he said.

Borey said the woman lives in a zinc-roofed house with her 60-year-old widowed daughter. Her grandchildren work in Thailand, which closed its border.

He said the woman came to his house and asked him to help post on Facebook because the district authority refused to pay the government subsidies and told her the card was invalid.

“I think it was a good deed and that’s why I helped her. She is old and shaking and crying. I felt pity so I posted on Facebook for help.

“Every day she is so worried because she has no money. And when I was called for questioning she was even more worried. She told me I helped her and I am bringing trouble on myself,” he said.

Her IDPoor card is valid for four years from 2016 onward, Borey said. He said the elderly woman had not yet received the subsidy.

Prek Chik commune chief Butt Boeun did not respond. Rukhak Kiri district police chief Chhay Mab said asking Som Borey to respond to the post was based on a complaint from the commune hall.

“I questioned him about the lawsuit only. I asked him if he posted that and accepted that he did. It was just that the IDPoor card was expired and couldn’t withdraw the money. The card can be used at a health centre for medical treatment only,” Mab said.

Battambang provincial Adhoc coordinator Yin Mengly, who investigated the case, said the summoning of Borey to the district police was after the commune hall tried to pressure Borey to apologise publicly on Facebook.

“The summons to the police station seems to be a threatening act and a restriction on freedom of expression. We say that Cambodia is a democracy and information is very important.

“And if the authorities or the government know how to use it, it will be useful. When Borey posted about this issue on Facebook the authorities should have investigated whether the lady is poor or not,” Mengly said.

The Ministry of Planning recently removed more than 6,000 families from the IDPoor list after their living conditions improved.

The removals were made after Prime Minister Hun Sen warned he would take action without exception against local authorities who listed their relatives as poor to receive government subsidies.