Former Khmer Republic official Chhang Song has been hospitalized in an “extremely critical condition,” his family said on Friday.
The wife of Chhang Song, who was information minister and military spokesperson for the Khmer Republic, issued a clarification statement after rumors circulated that the 82-year-old man had died.
“He is still alive,” Sum Sarun told VOA Khmer on Friday from Long Beach, United States, where the couple resides. “He was briefly [in a coma] before being saved by the doctors in their last efforts.”
Chhang Song is on life support at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, she said, where he is being treated for kidney inflammation, heart problems, and complications from a stroke.
Sum Sarun said her husband had been admitted on multiple occasions since April 26, after doctors diagnosed him with kidney inflammation. His health deteriorated after he had a heart attack in the nursing home on May 13.
“Without medical machines assisting and medicines, he may not be breathing now. For the time being, he is between life and death. What comes next is uncertain but I pray for gods to keep him with me because there are only two of us,” she said.
Chhang Song was a press liaison for the Khmer Republic’s military operations during the civil war between 1970 and 1975 after which he rose to become the information minister and a close aide to Lon Nol, who was head of state.
He was part of Lon Nol’s entourage that left Cambodia in early April 1975, shortly before the Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh and took control of the capital.
Chhang Song has remained a fierce defender of the Khmer Republic and, as one of the U.S.-backed regime’s last surviving cabinet members, often recounted accounts and insights of the regime and its demise.