At a graduation ceremony last February, Prime Minister Hun Sen took a moment out of his speech to the class of public administration students to praise tycoon’s son and entrepreneur Duong Chhay for reforming himself after he infamously beat another oknha’s son and “transforming himself into a philanthropist,” Thmey Thmey reported.
In home security footage from 10 months later, Chhay is seen leaping over his child in order to drag his then-wife with an arm around her neck, attacking her under the lenses of cameras inside the wealthy couple’s house.
Makeup entrepreneur Deth Malina on Monday night posted an hourlong video of her ex-husband, Chhay, attacking her in their home, airing a marital dispute between the two entrepreneurs that was caught on tape.
Security footage from just after midnight on December 13 — hours before Malina publicly announced their divorce — captures Chhay walking into a room and grabbing Malina by the arm as she sits with a young boy and another woman. She pushes him back toward the doorway at first, but he lunges at her again, jumping over the boy to topple and try to drag Malina away, until the second woman pulls the child away and a third woman comes in and tries to separate the two. After 90 seconds of struggle, Chhay pulls her away by wrapping an arm around her neck.
Cameras placed in other rooms show the late night fight as it moves through the opulent house, as different people stand to watch or attempt to intervene. Video from a stairwell rarely shows the couple, but a man is heard shouting, while a woman’s voice pleads amid crashing sounds and a child’s cries. At one point, the woman is heard making high-pitched yelps.
In another security video from earlier in July, Malina and a young boy are seen walking up a stairwell when Chhay comes rushing down, stops them and begins hitting Malina repeatedly, with their child standing between them. The child steps aside and Chhay turns back to kick her.
The popular social-media makeup seller began alluding to a dispute over child custody on March 12. Chhay had posted videos and photos of their two children occasionally since late January, in between sharing posts from Hun Sen, Covid-19 warnings and his own property sale ads.
Chhay explained in a Facebook livestream response Tuesday morning that he had indeed used violence against his ex-wife, but he claimed it was an old issue from the end of 2020 and that the couple decided to separate after the violent episode.
He said he and his wife had reunited but had another verbal dispute, which he said was over his wife’s lack of care for their children. He said he wasn’t violent in the latest dispute, but he had used violence against Malina in the past because she restricted his freedoms. She had also asked him to get sterilized, he said.
“If there is no third party, uncles and aunts let [us] consider how could a woman make the decision to divorce her husband, even when her husband did not use violence against her in the latest dispute,” Chhay said.
“Not divorced me before [when] I used violence, because she wanted me sterilized, because of an economic crisis, because she was in charge of the family for a short time in those few months. For a woman, if there is no one behind, there is not strong enough support, [she] cannot do such a thing, brothers.”
His livestream had more than 2.2 million views and nearly 300,000 comments by the end of the day.
In the comments, one viewer wrote: “I gotta admire how fast his emotions can switch 360 degree from sad, crying, and continue discriminating the wife.”
“Seeing the video, when the oknha used violence, the older people and children ran away, meaning this violence was not the first, second or the third time,” another wrote. “It has happened too many times when a sister can get up and others dare not to interfere.”
Sar Sineth, the deputy director general for the Women’s Affairs Ministry’s legal protection department, said Malina has the right to file a complaint to relevant authorities and seek justice against her ex-husband if Chhay had abused her, by causing bruises on her shoulders, face and legs, as she showed in her livestream video.
“In the video clip, it is very cruel and the [statute of limitations] for the crime has not expired yet,” she said. “She has the right to file a complaint, but for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, all forms of violence are still unacceptable. It is illegal and women need to seek legal help and get justice.”
Regarding their children, Sineth said that if the former couple divorces with a verdict, the parties have visitation rights for the children.
Malina could not be reached for comment today.
Interior Ministry spokesperson Phat Sophanit also could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesperson Kuch Kimlong said he would not comment on the case because he had not yet received all the information.
Chak Sopheap, director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, urged government officials to investigate Chhay over the security tapes to stop domestic abusers from getting away with violence.
“Authorities should investigate and ensure justice and protection for victims so that there is no culture of impunity for those who use violence,” she said.
Before his property business took off, Chhay was known for slapping and threatening to shoot another young tycoon, Try Pheap’s son Try Daluch, at a Phnom Penh tattoo parlor in 2015 for not knowing Chhay’s name. He was also given six months prison time for his involvement in a 2013 brawl where one man was pistol-whipped.
Correction: An earlier version of this article had a shortened version of Duong Chhay’s quote that gave an inaccurate impression of his words. The article was further updated on Friday to clarify that Chhay said elsewhere in his video that Malina asked him to get sterilized.