Well known CTN reporter Soy Sopheap said October 26 that he dropped his complaint against the son of a three-star RCAF general who allegedly threatened him in public over a television news report on car-racing youth gangs in Phnom Penh.
Soy Sopheap said that Ung Vanna, 19, drove by a popular Phnom Penh restaurant frequented by journalists on October 23, blaring threats through a loudspeaker attached to his luxury car.
“Ung Vanna’s car used a siren as a loudspeaker and said that the poor should make way and let the rich go by,” Soy Sopheap said by telephone. “He said [by loudspeaker] ‘Soy Sopheap, how strong are you?’”
“He threatened me, but I was not afraid of him. This country does not belong to him alone,” Soy Sopheap added.
Police arrested the young man on Wednesday evening and released him two hours later following a written promise from his parents that he would cease threatening journalists or racing his high-end vehicle through the streets of the capital.
Weekend drag racing in Phnom Penh has in recent years become a popular past time for the children of powerful officials—many have ended in accidents and several people have died as a result.
Soy Sopheap said that he dropped his complaint to police over the threat after receiving a phone call from Ung Vanna’s father, who he would not name.
“The father, who is a general, called me and used the language of understanding…to ask me to withdraw the complaint,” he added.
Kampuchea Thmey Daily and Voice of Khmer Youth newspapers on October 26 published front-page stories identifying Ung Vanna’s father as Major General Ung Samkhan, the chief of the Cambodian navy. The newspapers also published pictures of the teenager’s car, a Chrysler 300, which car dealers in Phnom Penh said Friday was valued at between $50,000 and $70,000.
Ung Samkhan could not be contacted on October 26 but an assistant who answered the general’s phone said that his superior was too busy to speak with a reporter.
Touch Naruth, municipal police chief, declined to comment on the case and referred questions to the Interior Ministry.
“When we arrested [Ung Vanna], we sent him to the Interior Ministry,” he added.
Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak, referred questions to the ministry’s Director of the General Information Department Chhay Sinarith, who could not be reached for comment October 26.
Pen Samithi, editor in chief of Rasmei Kampuchea Daily and president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, said that police had told him that Ung Samkhan had promised to educate his son in return for his release.
“The boy didn’t know about the rights of freedom of expression,” Pen Samithi he added.