Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘Illiterate’ chief sees scrutiny after stumbling during swearing in

‘Illiterate’ chief sees scrutiny after stumbling during swearing in

Jarai commune chief, Klan Fes speaks at the inauguration event on Friday in Ratanakkiri province.
Jarai commune chief, Klan Fes speaks at the inauguration event on Friday in Ratanakkiri province. Fresh News

‘Illiterate’ chief sees scrutiny after stumbling during swearing in

An ethnic Jarai opposition commune chief in Ratanakkiri province’s Som Thom commune is facing ridicule online and potential scrutiny from the Interior Ministry after fumbling with the Khmer language during his inauguration ceremony.

Video depicting Klan Fes’s swearing in on July 5 appears to show him struggling to read a Khmer text.

National Election Committee spokesman Khan Keo expressed concern over Fes’s apparent Khmer illiteracy, pointing to a chapter in Article 35 of Cambodia’s Commune Election Law that requires candidates to be able to read and write Khmer. “The candidate registration is determined by the ability to read and write Khmer,” he said.

CNRP Deputy Director Eng Chhay Eang defended the selection of Fes, saying the CNRP selected a Jarai candidate to please the commune’s largely uneducated indigenous population. “[A] bachelor’s [degree] and PhD holder would not be elected as the commune chief,” he said.

Fes insisted he can read and write “a little” Khmer but stumbled out of anxiety over O’Yadav District Governor Ma Vichet’s response to his speech, which came beforehand.

“When I finished [a run-through of] my speech, the district governor said: ‘You want to develop the commune; where will you get the money from?’” said Fes. “At the time, I was so scared.”

Cambodia has struggled to foster Khmer-language literacy among the nation’s ethnic minority groups, and Cambodian Indigenous Youth Association President Ngach Samin said he found mockery of Fes over social media unfair.

“The organisers should have arranged translation and let him have the right to make a commitment about taking control of his village or commune in [the] Jarai language.”

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro