An inter-ministerial working group has instructed the owner of Mahahang Production to learn more about the traditional culture and values of Cambodian women to avoid any intentional or unintentional mistakes in future, as the firm pledges to do a better job organising the next Miss Grand Cambodia pageant in a manner that will promote the values of Cambodian women.

The official admonition and apology came about at a September 1 face-to-face meeting between the Mahahang Production management and representatives from the ministries of Culture and Fine Arts; Women's Affairs; and Information.

The negative reaction by the public to some aspects of the August 24-27 pageant began when details noted by viewers during its broadcast were then widely debated on social media, bringing them to the attention of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

A press release from the culture ministry said that during the meeting, the inter-ministerial working group discussed and listened to reports and concerns raised by stakeholders – both positive and negative – about some of the programmes that took place during the process of organising the pageant.

"Relevant institutions have instructed the Mahahang Production management to learn more about the culture, customs, traditions, identities and values of Cambodian women and to cooperate closely with relevant institutions to avoid unintentional mistakes or any inadvertence that leads to the degradation of the national culture and values of Cambodian women."

Following the meeting, Mahahang Production issued a public apology and promised to increase cooperation with relevant institutions in organising future cultural events to avoid any repeat of the mistakes.

Mahahang director-general In Sophin claimed after the meeting that any negative perceptions that resulted were mostly due to technical errors, and promised to do his best in the coming years to promote Cambodian culture.

Mahahang director-general In Sophin​ in a meeting with representatives from the ministries of Culture and Fine Arts; Women's Affairs; and Information. CULTURE MINISTRY

"We will try to get this right next year and I promise there will be no more technical mistakes. We apologised for any inadvertent mistakes that were broadcast. During the meeting, there was some debate over the music and the dresses worn during the gala-at-night scene," he said.

Long Bonna Sirivath, spokesman for the culture ministry, said the government's policy is always to support the private sector and cooperate insofar as possible to facilitate the organising of events. But when mistakes are made, as was the case with the recent Miss Grand Cambodia, relevant parties must be called in for further guidance.

He noted that the gambling imagery on posters representing Svay Rieng province’s Bavet town and Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet town that were used in the course of the pageant were first remarked upon by the ministry after rehearsals on the night of August 24.

He added that after issuing its criticisms, the ministry also recommended the removal of the imagery from the production and by the day of the official contest, August 27, all gambling or gambling related imagery had been dealt with.

"There's nothing perfect … errors are inevitable. We have to take the positive with the negative because if we did not choose any Miss Grand Cambodia winners, then we wouldn’t have any title holders to compete with the ones from Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia in the ASEAN pageant framework.

"They have their candidates ready to join the contests and if all of a sudden it was just Cambodia that does not have any candidates at all, how would that be? We cannot let that happen … We must show the world the beauty of Cambodian women," he said.

At the time, he acknowledged that the event was terribly flawed in its conception and execution, noting that all relevant institutions have since been introduced to the company for closer collaboration to avoid repeating the mistakes in future.