Former Culture Minister, NEC Chair Dies Aged 86

Chheng Phon, a former chairman of the National Election Committee and a head of the then-Information and Culture Ministry during the 1980s, died on Thursday afternoon at his home in Kandal province’s Takhmao city. He was 86.

Prime Minister Hun Sen characterized Chheng Phon’s death as a “loss of important human resources” for Cambodia.

He also sent a condolence letter on Thursday to Culture Minister Phoeung Sakona, who is Chheng Phon’s daughter-in-law. Thai Norak Sathya, a spokesman for the ministry, described Chheng Phon as a “genius artist” whose many achievements in the cultural sector made his death a “loss of living heritage.”

Chheng was a playwright and director who taught at the Royal University of Fine Arts and served as president of the Khmer Artist Association in addition to leading the Culture Ministry from 1982 to 1991.

Born in Kompong Cham province in 1930, Chheng Phon was especially well-known for assembling the artists and performers who survived the Khmer Rouge.

He is survived by two sons, who are filmmakers. Funeral arrangements were expected to be announced today.

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