Thailand’s foreign minister apologized to Prime Minister Hun Sen in a letter Wednesday, saying he never intended to call the premier a “nak leng” or a gangster.
In a one-page letter signed by Kasit Piromya, he wrote that in the Thai language “nak leng” means someone who is lionhearted and a generous gentleman, not a thug or gangster.
“Please do rest assured that nothing will be allowed to come in the way of making our friendship and relationship warm, cordial and mutually beneficial,” the letter read. “Do kindly accept my deep apology for such an unfortunate incident and the unintentional cause of misunderstanding.”
Kamrob Palawatwichai, first secretary at the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh, confirmed that the message was sent Wednesday from the foreign minister.
The misunderstanding started after Kasit was asked during a parliamentary debate last week in Thailand to retract his December comment in which he called the Cambodian premier a “nak leng.”
Kasit instead rephrased his comment, reportedly saying Hun Sen was “suparb burut jai nak leng” or a gentleman who has the heart of a gangster. Since the dispute, Hun Sen called upon Kasit to retract his statement or forgo a handshake from the premier when the two meet in April.
In a letter date Thursday, Hun Sen responded to the foreign minister saying that he, and the country’s electorate who had chosen him to be prime minister, accepted the apology. “Being friends with each other is better than considering each other enemies,” Hun Sen wrote, according to a copy of the letter, adding that he looked forward to meeting the foreign minister in Thailand later this month.