Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - KCF head laments government snub

KCF head laments government snub

KCF head laments government snub

Moeung Sonn says he has received no response to letters apologising for Angkor Wat lighting remarks.

KHMER Civilisation Foundation head Moeung Sonn says he has received no response from letters of apology he sent to Prime Minister Hun Sen and King Norodom Sihamoni last month, seeking to overturn a disinformation conviction relating to criticisms of a new lighting scheme at Angkor Wat.

On July 14, Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted Moeung Sonn of disinformation in absentia, sentencing him to two years in prison and ordering him to pay 15 million riels (US$3,627) in fines and compensation.

"Until now, I have not received any letters of response from any government officials, which makes me deeply concerned," Moeung Sonn said in a statement issued from France on Sunday.

Shortly after being charged in late June, Moeung Sonn fled to France. In an interview by phone then, he said, ""If I had not left Cambodia shortly after [being charged], I would have been arrested and detained with a court warrant because the government was terribly angry with me."

Moeung Sonn sent letters to Hun Sen and King Sihamoni on July 17, apologising for comments made in late May, when he suggested that the heat from a new lighting scheme at Angkor Wat could damage the 11th-century temple.

"Please Samdech, consider providing justice and freeing me from the charges in order to pave the way for me to return to my beloved homeland safely," Moeung Sonn wrote in his letter to Hun Sen.


Moeung Sonn's apologies came after former Sam Rainsy Party lawyer Kong Sam Onn and Dam Sith, publisher of the opposition-aligned Moneaksekar Khmer newspaper, both wrote personal apologies to the prime minister after being sued for defamation by government officials.
Both saw the charges against them dropped.
However, legal experts told the Post last month that since he has been convicted on disinformation charges already, only a royal pardon from King Norodom Sihamoni would be able to clear him of the charges.

In his statement on Sunday, Moeung Sonn reiterated that his comments were only "to express my concerns as a Cambodian citizen", and that his only aim was to protect the country's cultural heritage.

"I had no intention of inciting confusions about government policy," he said.

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said Tuesday he did not wish to comment, but Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said that for the prime minister to intervene and lift Moeung Sonn's charges would go against the court's ruling and violate its jurisdiction.

"Moeung Sonn already played a game with the government, so if Prime Minister Hun Sen makes the decision to excuse him he would be trapped" he said.


  • Professor beaten by mob in Phnom Penh after alleged hit-and-run

    Updated with new information: 6:44am, Tuesday March 13 2018 A university professor accused of a hit-and-run has been transported to Vietnam with serious head injuries after he was brutally beaten by a mob in Phnom Penh late Sunday afternoon. A video of the attack shows a group

  • American ‘fugitive’ arrested in Cambodia outside of US Embassy

    An American citizen was arrested on request by the US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, according to Cambodian police. Major General Uk Hei Sela, chief of investigations at the Department of Immigration, identified the man as American Jan Sterling Hagen, and said he was

  • One Australian, one Cambodian killed in explosion at military base

    Updated: 5:20pm, Friday 16 March 2018 An Australian tourist and a Cambodian soldier were killed in an explosion on Thursday afternoon at an army base in Cambodia’s Kampong Speu province. The Australian, whom the government initially identified as a technical demining expert in his 40s, and

  • Australians protest Asean summit visit by PM Hun Sen

    Hundreds of protesters gathered in Sydney’s Hyde Park on Friday to protest against Cambodian strongman Hun Sen, who claimed to have been gifted millions of dollars by the Australian government ahead of a special Asean summit this weekend. An estimated 300 protesters, the majority of