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Song After the Shooting: Touch Sunnich's American Life

[Editor’s note: this is the second in a two-part series]

Touch Sunnich, the Cambodian pop singer who was shot in the face by unknown attackers in 2003, told VOA Khmer this week she had been disheartened by some Cambodian magazines that had made fun of her after her recovery and denied reports that an affair had led to her attack.

A 20-minute interview of the singer, who is paralyzed from the neck down, and her father, Seang Touch, paints a cruel portrait of the country she left behind.

“Some magazines said that I weighed 135 kilograms, even though I myself didn’t know my weight,” she said.

Magazines had distorted her image to make her appear larger, an act she called “unreasonable.”

“This is a sad thing,” her father said. “It’s not a joke.”

Touch Sunnich’s tragedy underscores the tenuous position of Cambodian women, especially entertainers, who are often victimized in a lawless country of powerful men and killers. No one has been arrested in the shooting, which killed Touch Sunnich’s mother.

No arrests have been made in the recent shooting of another singer, Pov Panhapich, who is hospitalized in Vietnam. And no arrests have been made in the murder of popular star Piseth Pilika in 1999. Piseth Pilika’s family claimed she was having an affair with Prime Minister Hun Sen when she was killed.

Touch Sunnich said she would never have an affair. The singer, who was also a university professor, had been raised in a traditional family, she said. She urged all Cambodian singers to follow such a path—and to steer clear of affairs with men.