Social media celebrity Try Dana made a public apology via Facebook to the Bunong indigenous people on January 6, saying that she had no intention of inciting anger or insulting the Bunong or any of Cambodia’s other indigenous ethnic minority groups.
Her public apology came after representatives of the Bunong indigenous people demanded she do so, saying that Dana had insulted them when she said her ex-husband came from “ignorant, like, Bunong people living on the outskirts of the village”, a remark which they lodged a complaint over with the court.
Dana posted on Facebook saying that she had no intentions of insulting any ethnic group and that she respected and loved them. She said that her comments were made during an angry outburst and were mistaken. She said that she was not referring to the Bunong people as a whole, but only to her ex-husband.
“I would like to apologize for using the words ‘ignorant Bunong people living on the outskirts of the village’. It was not intended to insult the Bunong people. I respect and love the cultures of Cambodia’s indigenous peoples. I love Mondulkiri and I even plan to buy land to build a house there soon,” she posted on Facebook.
To prove that she loves the Kingdom’s indigenous peoples, she said that anyone can check out her long and active history on social media to see if she has ever posted anything racist or insulting in the past and that she respected and loved all of her Cambodian compatriots.
Phluk Phirom, a representative of the Bunong indigenous people in Mondulkiri province, said on January 9 that a public apology on Try Dana’s Facebook page wasn’t sufficient in this case to induce the Bunong people to withdraw their complaint.
She said the elder Bunong people who did not use smart phones did not hear her apology, so they wanted her to organise a public apology ceremony at the Doh Kramom Mountain Cultural Centre in Sen Monorom town.
“We discussed this and we agree that Dana has to come to Mondulkiri province to publicly apologize to us so that all of our people know about it and now we look forward to her [visit]. Anyway, her penalty should be according to the traditions of our people and we cannot negotiate with her if she does not come to meet us in person,” she said.
Phirom stated that while Dana was very busy with the promotion of her products, the apparent racism she expressed was a big problem in Cambodia and cannot be ignored or cleansed by just making one Facebook post.
“This is for all of the Bunong people in many provinces, not just me. If she did wrong to me alone she could make a public apology on Facebook, but she wronged indigenous people all over the country and she cannot atone for that [by posting on Facebook],” she said.
Dana could not be reached for comment on January 9.