But top envoy Kasit Piromya maintains his meaning was lost in translation, and that his intent was to praise Hun Sen as ‘lion-hearted'.
The Thai Foreign Affairs Ministry claimed Wednesday that Minister Kasit Piromya referred to Hun Sen as jai nek leng (‘sportsmanlike', ‘big-hearted'), rather than the term nek leng, which translates into English as ‘gangster', or one who ‘ignores the rules'.
PRIME Minister Hun Sen has accepted a written apology by the Thai foreign minister over a remark made in Bangkok's parliament that some say referred to the premier as a "gangster".
In a letter dated Thursday obtained by the Post, Hun Sen said "the Cambodian people, who supported and voted for me to lead the country, as well as myself, were definitely calmed by the sight of your apology".
The foreign minister, Kasit Piromya, wrote Wednesday to Hun Sen expressing his "deep apology" for what he described as an "unintentional cause of misunderstanding", according to a copy of the letter.
On Tuesday, during the inauguration of Samdech Hun Sen Quay in Preah Sihanouk province, Hun Sen lashed out at Kasit for allegedly branding him a "gentleman with the mind of a gangster".
But echoing similar comments from the Thai Foreign Minsitry, Kasit said his comments - made in a parliamentary debate last month - were misconstrued by the prime minister.
"In the Thai language, the work nak leng that I used during the debate means a person who is lion-hearted, a courageous and magnanimous gentleman," he wrote.
"This is how I referred to you as an expression of my appreciation of and respect for Your Excellency."
Hun Sen is scheduled to attend the April 10-12 ASEAN summit in Thailand, which will also include representatives from Japan, China and South Korea. Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is also slated to visit Cambodia on April 18.