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Lawmaker apologises over icon comparison

Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang has issued a written apology for a public statement last month in which he compared party leader Sam Rainsy to a martyr of Kampuchea Krom, a section of southern Vietnam to which Cambodian nationalists have long claimed ownership.

The letter came following strongly worded criticism by Son Soubert, president of the Human Rights Party, which merged with the Sam Rainsy Party to form the CNRP in 2012, but still holds posts on the commune level.

Soubert condemned Chhay Eang for likening the exiled Rainsy to Son Kuy – a provincial governor who was allegedly decapitated by the Vietnamese in 1841 – during a Radio Free Asia interview. Soubert’s father, the late statesman Son Sann, claimed to be a grandson of Kuy.

“If His Excellency [Son Soubert] or any Khmer Krom brother or sister understands my statement to be indecent or incorrect, I would like to apologise to His Excellency and to the Khmer Krom,” Chhay Eang wrote in his letter to Soubert, sent on Sunday.

The CNRP lawmaker added that he had never forgotten the virtue and courage of Son Kuy, whom he credited with leading patriotic forces to defend Khmer culture and civilisation in Kampuchea Krom.

Soubert yesterday said the apology would allay the feelings of Khmer Krom.

“Personally, I will not criticise him anymore, because he is brave to have taken this action,” Soubert said.

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