On 25 April 2017, Cambodia’s Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts’ disciplinary council banned actress Denny Kwan from working in the entertainment industry for a year due to the artist posting pictures of herself in sexy clothing, reported The Phnom Penh Post on 27 April 2017.
”I know it’s my right to [dress how I want], but our culture, Cambodian people, cannot accept it. I will try not to be sexy as I usually am when I post on Facebook,” Kwan said.
The head of the disciplinary council, Chamroeun Vantha, explained that the 24-year-old actress was punished for failing to honour the written agreement she made to the ministry nearly a year prior that she would dress more conservatively.
“The council members decided to punish Denny Kwan by not having any activities in the entertainment industry for one year, such as filming, karaoke and singing performances on TV,” Vantha said. “Secondly, we appeal to artist associations, TV [stations] and entertainment production owners to cooperate with the ministry to punish [her] by not giving her any work, like commercial spots and filming.”
New, vague code of conduct
The council head further explained that the decision was made in line with Article 4 of the ministry’s Artists’ Ethical Code of Conduct, which ”encourages artists to dress with their personal dignity and national identity in mind”.
The Cambodia Daily explained that the code of conduct, which went into effect in late February 2017, is ”vaguely worded” and aims to promote arts and culture without featuring negative elements that can harm identity and tradition.
The newspaper also reported that Kwan is the first artist to be banned under this new code.
In September 2016, The Phnom Penh Post reported that the code, which was being drafted at the time, was comprised of 12 guidelines that aim to ensure artists preserve Cambodian culture and national identity.
Article 4 specifically stated that artists must be “devoted to the Cambodian nation, religion and monarchy” and further requires that artists must be “moral and virtuous in their choice of words, gestures and dress”.
Minister of Culture Phoeurng Sakona at the time explained that those artists who were found to be in violation of the code would be called in to be “reprimanded” and could face suspension from performing or exhibiting their art for unspecified amounts of time.
Actress’ first meeting on her dress
The actress had appeared in front of the ministry in May 2016 to be ”educated” about her attire, with the ministry’s Secretary of State Thai Norak Satya explaining: ”Khmer culture is about modesty”.
At that time, Kwan said the state secretary educated her “like a daughter”, adding that she was advised by the officials to dress more modestly, but that she was still allowed to dress however she wanted, reported Asian Correspondent on 28 April 2017.
» Asian Correspondent – 28 April 2017
Cambodia: Actress deemed too sexy for TV banned a year from filming
» The Cambodia Daily – 27 April 2017
Gov’t bans actress for a year for violating ’Code of Conduct’
» The Phnom Penh Post – 27 April 2017
Actress banned for sexy clothing
» Al Jazeera – 13 February 2017
Cambodia artists concerned over censorship
» The Phnom Penh Post – 28 September 2016
Ministry’s code of conduct for artists closer to reality
» The Phnom Penh Post – 3 June 2016
The women pushing the limits of ’sexy dress’