Phnom Penh Post
By Mom Kunthear
A Cambodia People’s Party lawmaker plans to apologise in person to
members of the ethnic minority group he offended by using their
collective name to insult an opposition party leader, an indigenous
rights group said yesterday.
Chheang Vun, a CPP lawmaker, provoked outrage last month when he
called Human Rights Party president Kem Sokha “Phnuong”, the name of an
ethnic minority that, when used pejoratively, implies the person is a
He gave a qualified public apology on Thursday in the National
Assemply. Vun expressed remorse for causing offense, while explaining
that the word he used had no such negative connotations in the
But Yun Mane, 33, chair of the board of the Cambodian Indigenous Youth Association, said yesterday that Vun went a step further.
A day after the National Assembly meeting, he apparently told
representatives of the ethnic minority that he plans to visit them
sometime in Mondulkiri in the middle of next year to make a personal
statement of regret.
“Chheng Vun said he will come to apologise to us in the middle of
next year, but we will contact him directly to urge him to do it faster
in order to finish this case,” said Mane, who is an ethnic Phnuong, who
have roots in Mondulkiri province.
Vun could not be contacted, as he was traveling abroad.
News of Vun’s plans came at a press conference that several ethnic
groups held at Meta House in Phnom Penh yesterday. Initially motivated
by Vun’s comments, about 10 members of the Phnuong, Jarai, Kreung and
Suoy minorities urged tolerance and acceptance of their people.
Nak Sandan, an ethnic Kreung from Ratanakkiri province, said
yesterday that ethnic minorities are just like other Cambodians, with
their own culture, tradition and family.
“We have hearts; we hurt when someone looks down on us and says ethnic minorities are cruel,” she said.
Plel Bel, a Phnuong, said yesterday people have always accused them
of committing outlandish acts, even deeds as ghastly as eating their
“We are worried about their thinking to us, and we cannot accept how they look down on our race,” he said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Mom Kunthear at