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Award for a lifetime of service.

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Media Release

FA71 - 19 June 2003

Award For A Lifetime Of Service

A long-serving employee of the Australian Embassy in Phnom Penh, Mr Khuy Muy, has today been awarded an Achievement Medallion to honour his dedicated service to the Australian Government.

Over the past 45 years, which has included three decades of violent political turmoil, Mr Muy has devoted himself loyally and tirelessly to his work at the Australian Embassy, including as Driver to the Ambassador.

Virtues such as loyalty and discretion are expected in a job such as his. But in the face of the unfolding tragedy of the Khmer Rouge invasion in April 1975, Mr Muy demonstrated bravery and initiative far beyond the call of duty.

One of his deeds is now legendary at the Australian Embassy. In the months leading up to the invasion, the Australian staff were recalled, leaving Mr Muy in charge of managing Australian property and closing the Embassy. At great danger to himself, Mr Muy discharged these duties even as the Khmer Rouge rolled into the city and foreign-aligned Cambodians were persecuted and killed.

Mr Muy buried the keys to the Australian Embassy in a nearby province, handing them back to the Australian Government more than 10 years later. Mr Muy suffered great hardship during the brutal Khmer Rouge occupation of Cambodia from 1975-79 as all Cambodians struggled to survive.

When the Australian Embassy was re-established in Phnom Penh in 1990, Mr Muy presented himself to the mission, told his story and asked to be reemployed. Mr Muy was welcomed back with gratitude and relief.

Mr Muy’s retirement is well-deserved. I hope he will accept this award as recognition of his special place in the history of the Australian Embassy and in the hearts of his employers.

Mr Downer is in Cambodia for the ASEAN Regional Forum and Post Ministerial Conference.

Media enquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500 - Karen Lanyon (Australian Embassy) 855-12 810 806