The crime of Ung Meng Cheu

  • Ung Meng Cheu, Shimmex’s chairman was murdered on November 22.
  • Parents of Thong Sarath, mastermind main suspect on the crime, called for a press conference where they confessed to ask their son to go into hiding. 
  • Phnom Penh Court charged four Thong Sarath’s bodyguards with ‘intentional murder’.
  • Police suggests that Thong Sarath probably left the country, but there is not yet an international warrant.

A crime in front to a security camera, an odd press conference and a hidden tycoon seem good elements for a detective movie. But it happens really in Cambodia and it is a good example of how things go along in the country with our “high-class.”

Many shared the video of how a man kills prominent business person Ung Meng Cheu, the chairman of Shimmex when he descended alone from his car in front to a fruits’ shop in Phnom Penh central’s Sihanouk’s Boulevard on November 30 at about 7:30 PM.

Scroll down to see sequence of the video

Obviously, such a crime with so much publicity, could not remain unpunished. There are things that money cannot buy and this crime is one of those things. It seems a terrible miscalculation from the part of the criminals.

Still more: as it became clear who was the gunner, the Phnom Penh Police Department went behind another prominent wealthy man: Thong Sarath. Same as the victim, Thong Sarath has an honorific or noble title: Oknha – a title given by the king to prominent personalities that have contributed to the Cambodian society – and he is also a General. That makes things complicated for the so respectful Cambodian justice system. When the Police arrested four bodyguards under intentional murder charges, something unusual happened: the parents of General Oknha Thong Sarath called on a press conference.


Parents of Thong Sarath in their press conference explaining why they asked their son to go into hiding on December 4, 2014. The mother, Keo Sary, holds two important positions within the government and the Senate, although she seems to be from Vietnam.

This event is very much important to analyze for some reasons:

  • There is an open intention to manipulate the public opinion through the media.
  • Once more, there is an assumption that those with a lot of money can do whatever, even to lead what the press has to say about them.

Another miscalculation: declaring in front to the media that they helped the main suspect to escape, it’s nothing more than implying yourself in the crime: they were arrested and are waiting a judgement for obstruction of justice.


General Thong Sarath, allegedly mastermind of the murder of Ung Meng Cheu, now on the hidden. 

The story goes beyond: the parents of General Thong Sarath seem to come from Vietnam, something that has been already pointed out in different media. Within the context of anti-Vietnamese feelings, it plays also a very important role in accusations that can be rather speculations over the case.

Thong Sarat is the president of the real state company Meanchey International Investment, as well as cabinet deputy chief at the Ministry of Defence. One of the main construction projects is Borey 999 and the case is causing already concerns in many investors.


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About Albeiro Rodas

Albeiro Rodas (in Cambodia Sky Ly Samnang), is a MA in Digital Communication, independent journalist and a Salesian of Don Bosco from Amalfi, Colombia, based in Cambodia since 1999. He is the creator of the Don Bosco schools of journalism in Sihanoukville and Kep with young people from poor communities and the founder of the Don Bosco Kep Children Fund. Medal for Social Commitment UPB (2010); among the 100 more upstanding Colombians abroad (Marca Colombia, 2012, and among the 12 Colombians that are making this a better world 2013 (

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