PHNOM PENH • A Cambodian property tycoon has pleaded for leniency, given up his honorific "oknha" title, and may have fled to Singapore after being filmed beating up a female former TV host in a restaurant.
Mr Sok Bun, through his lawyer, has also increased an offer of compensation to the victim to US$100,000 (S$136,300) from US$40,000, said the Asian Correspondent website.
But the Phnom Penh Post said his victim, Ms Ek Socheata, who is known as Ms Sasa, has rejected the latest offer, comparing it to "waiting too long to put water on an out-of-control fire".
Asian Correspondent said the television star needed treatment in Thailand for head and eye injuries sustained during the July 2 incident. It allegedly began as she tried to stop Mr Bun from dragging an inebriated Japanese friend away against her will. The Japanese woman has reportedly gone home to Japan.
HE MUST BE PUNISHED
We want this case to end with prison. He should be arrested to remove a criminal from society, and to send a message to men who abuse women and children.
CAMBODIA'S MINISTRY OF WOMEN'S AFFAIRS, in a statement on Monday, according to the Khmer Times
"We want this case to end with prison," Cambodia's Ministry of Women's Affairs said on Monday, the Khmer Times reported.
"He should be arrested to remove a criminal from society, and to send a message to men who abuse women and children."
Mr Bun last week resigned as director of joint ventures between his firm and Singaporean partner TEHO International, and also as president of the Cambodian Valuers and Estate Agents Association, the Cambodian media said.
The joint ventures include a US$500 million hotel and residential development in the capital Phnom Penh, which TEHO on Monday said would go ahead, according to the Phomn Phen Post.
Asian Correspondent said the royally bestowed "oknha" title is normally given to those who contribute to the development of the country, usually with a donation of US$100,000 to the state coffers.
The Phnom Penh Post reported Mr Bun's lawyer Yin Sophy as saying on Tuesday that the tycoon has pleaded with Prime Minister Hun Sen to guarantee his freedom, allowing him "to fulfil my obligation as a father and husband".
The newspaper also said Interior Minister Sar Kheng has called for Mr Bun's arrest and warned against obstructing the search for him. "If he escapes, it will be an insult against us," he said.
The Post also reported on Monday that the director of the Ministry of Interior's Penal Police Department Sok Khemrin had said Mr Bun's whereabouts are known.
The newspaper said that a letter "circulated" in the Cambodian capital on Tuesday was believed to have been written by a Singapore doctor, claiming Mr Bun has been in his care for "several years" and "will be unable to travel for a number of months" .
Opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua has asked Singapore's ambassador to Cambodia, Mr Kevin Cheok, for cooperation in capturing Mr Bun, according to The Phnom Penh Post.