Where the hell is DJ Ano these days? The once high-profile TV star has completely faded from the showbiz scene, and no one really seems to care. There’s no clamour about her whereabouts, no paparazzi dogging her footsteps, and few people are asking whatever happened to DJ Ano?
But that certainly wasn’t the case just over two years ago.
Back in October 2008, Soun Pheakdey – aka DJ Ano, aka VJ Ano – was a 27-year-old model and actress, riding high on her popularity as the MC of a show on TV3.
But in early November she abruptly disappeared from the screen, with no one, including her family and station management, apparently having any idea of her whereabouts.
Her disappearance prompted an avalanche of articles in celebrity magazines, websites and blogs, and in the kingdom’s lurid tabloids which lurk within broadsheets.
Suggestions were that DJ Ano was the fifth person attacked due to “love triangle” ructions, after actress Pisith Pilika was shot dead, singer Touch Sunnich was shot and maimed, actress Tat Marina was splashed with acid, and singer Pov Panhapich was shot and disabled.
The gist of the “news” was that DJ Ano had been shagging a senior official and had fallen foul of a jealous and vindictive wife, who hired goons to kidnap her, shave her hair, and cut her 83 times with razor blades, slashing her face, body, and “even her genital part was not spared,” as Rasmei Kampuchea reported.
Further rumours were that DJ Ano was either dead or so badly slashed that she was dying in a hospital in Malaysia, Bangkok or Vietnam, after having been rushed to Calmette Hospital in Phnom Penh.
Other reports simply stated that she was recuperating at her family home in Kampong Thom.
On November 8, a commenter on the Asia Finest discussion forum ran a post declaring, “DJ Ano had been attacked by blades by 3 - 4 dogs. Her face, back, sex part were all sliced up by blades. This attacked was 20 days ago and she is now getting treatment in Vietnam.”
On November 14, a commenter on Expat Advisory Services ran this post: “The reports in the Khmer media of the demise of dj ano, former TV3 star, are certainly disturbing. Bundled into the lexie, black no doubt, and then attacked with a razor by the jealous wife. The car surrounded by military police to keep the crowd back.
“The victim slashed everywhere including near circumcision and is now in hospital in Vietnam never to return…one wonders at the possible connection with a recent high level death.”
The Expat Advisory post followed the website’s publication that day of a dispatch from VietnamNet Bridge, which read: “According to some Cambodian newspapers, DJ Ano’s entire body was lacerated by tens of dozens of cuts from razor blades and she lost a lot of blood. The hit-men had been hired by the wife of a senior police officer.
“The FV Hospital said that DJ Ano had been hospitalised in very serious condition but the hospital refused to provide further information.
“DJ Ano’s going to and leaving the FV hospital was kept secret. According to Cambodian newspapers, the information released by the hospital was the first accurate information about DJ Ano. Even TV3 channel hadn’t had any information about their staff in nearly three weeks.
“Nobody knows whether DJ Ano has returned to Cambodia or not.”
GENESIS OF THE RUMOUR IN SOPHORN MAGAZINE
The story seems to have been kicked off by Sophorn magazine in its November 2-15, 2008 edition.
According to the Rasmei Kampuchea newspaper, the magazine article reported that the wife of a high ranking official kidnapped DJ Ano, and had her head shaved and her face cut with razor blades because the wife was angry that DJ Ano had an affair with her husband.
On November 7, Kohsantepheap Daily reported that Mr Bou Boran, manager of TV3, had said that he was not certain that DJ Ano was attacked in the manner Sophorn magazine described, but he confirmed that DJ Ano had disappeared and that he had to find a replacement for her for the show.
On Saturday November 8, Cambodia Information Centre Editorial ran a piece from KI Media translating and commenting on a November 7 Rasmei Kampuchea item which reported that Chuon Narin, chief of the serious crimes bureau in Phnom Penh, told the newspaper on the afternoon of November 6 that: “I heard this information also. My force went to do research on it, but there is no sure source that could confirm it up to now, and there is no complaint brought up about this case either.”
General Touch Naroth, Phnom Penh police commissioner, made the same statement, and the Phnom Penh court said there was no complaint about DJ Ano’s case.
On November 15, Touch Naroth told Radio Free Asia that he would launch an unofficial investigation into the disappearance of DJ Ano after rumours circulated that she had died from the razor blade wounds. He promised to arrest the culprits if the story was true.
The Rasmei Kampuchea piece said, “Some artists claimed that DJ Ano who was attacked by razor blades has only about 20 percent chance of survival because she lost too much blood from the attack. However, these sources asked to remain anonymous.
“Special artists from TV3 channel claimed that the attack on DJ Ano was perpetrated by the wife of high ranking official who ordered 3-4 of her bodyguards to kidnap DJ Ano and threw her in a car. At first, the bodyguards used razor blades to shave DJ Ano hair, they then proceeded to cut her face with the blades also. Later on, they cut her entire body from top to bottom with razor blades and even her genital part was not spared. The source added that DJ Ano was very seriously injured and her family rushed her out of the country for medical care.”
KI Media reported that all the sources consulted by Rasmei Kampuchea claimed that the razor attack on DJ Ano was 100 percent true.
“According to one group of sources, she would be sent to Malaysia, while a second group claimed that she was sent to Vietnam instead. It appears that information from the second group is more accurate because Rasmei Kampuchea received the news on November 6 that she was sent to Vietnam.”
The article also said DJ Ano “used to have a love relationship with a Filipino man and a Thai man.”
After her breakup from her Filipino boyfriend, she was engaged to a Khmer-American, Khem Botry, but the engagement was short-lived. She then reportedly had a relationship with a businessman in Phnom Penh before the alleged affair with a senior government official.
Rasmei Kampuchea said, “Following her breakup with her fiancé from the US, DJ Ano received a warning from a woman telling her to be careful because she may be splashed with acid.
“The Sophorn magazine claimed that prior to her liaison with the high ranking government official, she was linked to the owner of massage parlour.
“…Up to now, TV3 does not the whereabouts of DJ Ano. Kong Socheat from TV3 claimed that DJ Ano did not come to the station for the past 2-3 weeks.”
On November 15, Radio Free Asia reported, “Actress DJ Ano is the fifth victim of a jealousy attack because of a love triangle with the husband of a powerful lady.
“Actress Suon Pheakdei or DJ Ano was reportedly named as missing in the past few days by a human right organisation Adhoc after razor blade attacks on her a few days earlier.
“Mr Chan Saveth, investigator for Adhoc, said that DJ Ano resides at two addresses in Phnom Penh but, after the attack, all members of her family had fled the addresses due fears for their safety.
“He blamed the authority for whitewashing these kinds of crimes which led to continuous attacks that killed many people. He said: ‘We knew that she had disappeared for more than three weeks and these sorts of crimes cannot be allowed to go unpunished. The police must investigate this case thoroughly because it is a criminal case. If the police refuse to investigate, it will have an impact on the implementation of our laws.’”
Interestingly, at the time Kohsantepheap Daily reported that Ano was a very elusive person. She had no real residence and no relatives that people knew. Even her co-hostess Molina who was very close to her said she never talked about where she lived or her relatives. Molina did not know why DJ Ano had to be so very mysterious.
LAZARUS-LIKE, DJ ANO RISES FROM THE POSSIBLY DEAD
On Wednesday November 19, DJ Ano suddenly reappeared on the Supper Hi-Tech program on TV3. She was certainly alive and seemingly unscarred, albeit with a new cropped boyish haircut.
During the appearance, she said “First, I feel really frustrated that local newspapers write something that defames local stars. If they see with their own eyes that I was cut with blood and razor and stuff like that, then they can run such a story. For now, I said I’m going to file a complaint to the court.”
The following day on Thursday, November 20, The Phnom Penh Post duly noted the TV appearance, and reported, “In addition to refuting stories of the attack, which began circulating more than a week ago when she failed to turn up for work, Ano said she has asked for a police investigation to determine who might be responsible for spreading false information about her.”
The Post added that Kha Puon Keomony, director general of TV3, said Ano had taken time off from work to visit relatives abroad but that at her request, he had not released the information to the media.
He said he didn’t tell anyone because, “She asked me not to speak about her.”
The TV appearance followed reports in the preceding three or four days that DJ Ano had been seen alive and well.
On the following Monday, Rasmei Kampuchea reported that Ano had denied ever being attacked.
On Tuesday November 18, the Post revealed that Seng Sitheang, the publisher of Angkor Thom magazine, said that his colleague met with Ano the previous week and that he took 85 photos of her that showed no evidence of an attack or the alleged 83 razor slashes.
Him Vichet, a reporter at Angkor Thom magazine, told the Post that Ano returned to Cambodia on November 9 without any visible injuries and that he interviewed her the following day.
“I looked at her, and her face and body are still the same. There were no scars on her. Her face is still nice,” Him Vichet said at the time.
The Post said, “Ano told Him Vichet that she did not go to Vietnam, but instead went on a three-country tour.”
The Post also reported that Ano’s employer, TV3 director general Kham Poun Keomony, called her case “her own personal story” and did not know details of her disappearance.
“I do not know her whereabouts, but I have heard that she is well. If she is well,” he told the Post, “we will welcome her back at TV3.”
But apart from her brief appearance on November 19, DJ Ano did not return to TV3 and has completely faded out of the Cambodian showbiz scene.
In March this year the Angkor Thom website reported another possible sighting, saying that DJ Ano was believed to be living in France with a new lover, but there was no proof.
The website claimed that singer and actor Andy, a close friend of Ano, said that he met her sister about three months previously. Her sister said that Ano is fine and now living in France, and not likely to return to stage or screen.
During late 2010, some of her showbiz friends said that she frequently went to Korea to look for business opportunities, hoping to import cosmetic products to sell in Cambodia. At the same time, the friends said, she has always been waiting for a good opportunity to return to the TV screen.
But the website also noted that an insider who claimed to be a close co-worker with Ano said she had never recovered from the ferocity of the rumours, and that she understood that it was fortunate the rumours were just that, and not reality.
Indeed, the scuttlebutt in the showbiz scene suggests that the bizarre and mysterious events surrounding Ano were a carefully orchestrated rumour mill to send a menacing message to the actress of what could happen to her if she didn’t quit the scene.
The rumours of course gained traction in the wake of a series of murders, maiming and crippling of stars who apparently dallied where they shouldn’t.
A list of the fallen
July 6, 1999: Piseth Pilika, a movie actress who had appeared in more than 60 films and had an international profile, was shot by an unknown gunman during a shopping excursion at Orussey Market in Phnom Penh. She died from her wounds on July 13.
French magazine L’Express threw around some very big names as being involved in the shooting. Defamation writs were then apparently threatened, but nothing eventuated.
Former Phnom Penh Police commissioner, General Heng Pov, later claimed via Radio Free Asia that National Police Commissioner, General Hok Lundy was behind the “killing of actress Pisith Pilika.” The claim was made after Hok Lundy was killed in helicopter crash. That claim was not proven either.
The killing was never solved.
December 5, 1999: 16-year-old actress Tat Marina, known as Rina, was attacked while eating rice soup with her 3-year-old niece near the Olympic Market in Phnom Penh.
She was yanked to the ground, kicked and kneed, and then doused with more than a litre of nitric acid.
Shortly after the attack, the district police chief identified the prime suspects as the wife of a senior official, and two bodyguards. But nothing ever eventuated.
On her hospital bed on February 5, 2000, she told the Cambodia Daily: “I’m very hurt, I’m very hurt that I cannot do anything in the future. I cry to reduce the hurt from my heart, from my mind. I don’t know why this has happened to me.”
No charges were ever laid, but a film is being made about Tat Marina in the US that may bring justice. But don’t bank on it.
October 2003: Cambodian singer Touch Sunnich and her mother were shot by four men on motorcycles after a shopping trip in Phnom Penh.
The mother was killed and Touch Sunnich was shot in the face and paralysed for life.
“It’s the same thing that happened to me,” Touch Sunnich told VOA in May 2007 after learning of the Pov Panhapich shooting. She now lives in the US and is still wheelchair-bound.
The crime was never solved.
Friday February 23, 2007: Top singer Pov Panhapich was shot twice, once in the throat and once in the hip, at close range while on her way to college.
On May 17 2010, Angkor Thom interviewed Pov Panhapich in Phnom Penh, and reported that she is completely paralysed from her chest down and is wheelchair-bound. Pain from the damaged nerves and bones are still badly affecting her physically and mentally. She now lives in the US.
The shooting was never solved.