One of Cambodia’s most popular young actresses on Monday moved to dispel rumors that she has been romantically involved with National Assembly and Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh, adding that such idle chatter has prompted her to fear for her personal safety.
Duch Sophea’s comments came one day after Prime Minister Hun Sen accused the mistress of a senior government official, whom he did not name, of recently crashing her car into police.
In his speech, Hun Sen added that if the mistress in question were one day to become a wife or princess, she might then be brazen enough to crash her vehicle into National Police Commissioner Hok Lundy.
Hun Sen added that he told Hok Lundy to arrest the woman in question, to test whether her prince would use his power to protect her. “I told Hok Lundy to handcuff [the mistress]. Will the prince come out?” Hun Sen said.
Duch Sophea, 20, said in a telephone interview that the comments may have been an opaque reference to her, as police questioned her after she was suspected of refusing to stop for a traffic police officer earlier this month.
She also said that people jealous of her movie and karaoke video career have spread false rumors that she is romantically linked to Prince Ranariddh, and that the gossip has put her reputation and life at risk.
“I am not a princess. I don’t know the prince. I never filmed for him,” Duch Sophea said. “The rumors would affect my reputation and my life security.”
She said her personal wealth may also have prompted the rumors, adding that a lover has not bestowed riches upon her.
“I swear to Buddha to be struck by lightning” if the rumors are true, she added. She said Hun Sen may have confused her with her older sister Duch Chan Samphors, who she said was guilty of not stopping when flagged down by traffic police.
“The problem is solved, it is finished. I apologize to the prime minister. I apologize to the traffic police” on behalf of her sister, Duch Sophea said.
On Monday afternoon, Duch Sophea was interviewed on the FM 98 Radio station to answer questions from her fans. She again denied crashing her car.
Prince Ranariddh’s Cabinet Chief Noranarith Anandayath called the rumors “stupid.” Funcinpec spokesman Chea Chanboribo and royalist Minister of Rural Development Lu Laysreng both declined comment.
Pich Socheata, deputy Daun Penh district governor, said police questioned Duch Sophea after the incident with traffic police and were satisfied by her explanation that her older sister had been responsible.
Duch Sophea was also questioned over allegations that she had slapped a fellow high school student the day before the incident, and found not to have done so. The case is now closed, Pich Socheata said.
On Sunday, Hun Sen warned that government officials who have lavished money on their mistresses will be investigated and punished.
“Now, we have to crack down on elderly gangsters,” Hun Sen said, though he did not name a specific party or individual.