Domestic Violence Scandal Highlights Cambodian Government’s Hypocrisy

A treatment of the self-claimed businessman Duong Chhay reveals once again that in Hun Sen’s Cambodia, there is one set of rules for the powerful and another for everyone else.

On Monday, videos circulated on social media showing the Cambodian tycoon Duong Chhay – who has been bestowed the royal honorific of oknha, a reward for businesspeople who donate more than $500,000 to the ruling party – viciously beating his ex-wife, the entrepreneur Deth Malina. The footage was reportedly from December 13, the day before she publicly announced their divorce. Another video posted was reportedly from a later date. Chhay took to Facebook to try to defend himself, although only made matters worse through his overt misogyny and histrionics, claiming he beat his wife because she tried to control his movements.

After the videos went viral on social media, the government jumped into action, keen to show that it is on top of such scandals. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs decried violence against women. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen asked the Senate President to write to King Norodom Sihamoni, requesting that Chhay’s oknha title be revoked. It waits to be seen whether the authorities will prosecute, although they appear to be waiting for Malina to file a case, which many argue shouldn’t be needed for the police to arrest the tycoon.

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