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Police Chief’s University Worries After Loss

When late police chief Hok Lundy died in a helicopter crash Sunday, he left behind a multi-million dollar legacy, Svay Rieng University, and students here say they are now worried their academic futures will be jeopardized.

The death of Hok Lundy, who suffered heavy criticism for his human rights record but was a major contributor Svay Rieng province, where he was raised, could mean less money for scholarships, materials and construction at the university, students said.

Hok Lundy contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the university to sponsor scholarships in the name of Prime Minister Hun Sen, Svay Rieng Governor Cheang Am said Friday.

“Hok Lundy paid more than $1 million for the construction of Svay Rieng University, and he paid $200,000 per year for scholarships under Hun Sen,” Cheang Am said.

The university now has more than 2,000 students, more than half of whom are on the Hun Sen scholarships, Cheang Am said.

“Hok Lundy’s death will affect our studies at the university,” said Sok Navuth, 21, who is studying on such a scholarship. “The majority of students have been sponsored by Hok Lundy. When we’ve lost Hok Lundy, we’ve lost our sponsor.”

Svay Rieng University, near the center of Svay Rieng town, the provincial capital, consists of one building of 50 classrooms surrounded by gardens and backed by dormitories for men and women.

Its computers, chairs, tables, desks, books and research materials were all purchased by Hok Lundy, Cheang Am said.

Students learn management, rural development, information technology, agronomy, law, political science and other subjects.

Many said they don’t believe accusations leveled at the former police chief, a powerful Cambodian People’s Party official aligned with Prime Minister Hun Sen who rights groups say collaborated in murder, execution, a deadly grenade attack and human trafficking.

Nuon Sopheak, 22, who is studying English literature, said this week students were worried about diminished academic chances.

Hok Lundy had promised a new wing to the university, Nuon Sopheak said, and he encouraged students to do well and seek work in Bavet commune, Chantrea district, on the Vietnam border, where he hoped to develop a modern city.

“Hok Lundy always came to meet the students in the university, once a month,” she said, “and he would give recommendations to students in the university: ‘Try to study hard, then after university you can get a job in Bavet.’”

Governor Cheang Am said he had been reassured that Prime Minister Hun Sen would work with Hok Lundy’s wife, Men Pheakdey, and family to continue to develop the project started by Hok Lundy.