The Center of Khmer Studies announces with deep regret the passing of its distinguished board member, The Honourable Dr. Benny Widyono, on March 17, 2019, in his sleep, surrounded by his family, in Stamford, CT. Born an Indonesian of Chinese ethnicity, Benny had proudly become an American citizen last year. With his wife Francesca, he lived in Cambodia for many years, first as United Nations Governor of Siem Reap Province, and after that for long years as Ambassador and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps as UN Ambassador to Cambodia. He spoke Khmer and loved Cambodians and Khmer culture.
Following a long and distinguished career at the United Nations, he served on both corporate and non-profit boards, notably Leopard Capital (makers of Kingdom Beer) and the CKS in Cambodia. Born an Indonesian of a prominent Chinese Catholic family, he had lived through genocide against the Chinese even before encountering the Khmer Rouge as UN Governor of Siem Reap Province after the Paris Peace Accords. His life was threatened multiple times, as he recounts in his engaging biography, សាក្សីប្រវត្តិសាស្រ្ត published in Khmer in 2011. He was a courageous leader and spoke his mind.
Dr. Widyono held a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Texas, and, since retirement from his position as United Nations ambassador to Cambodia, he returned to teaching as Professor of Economics at the University of Connecticut, near his home. Dr. Widyono was a major contributor to the Center for Khmer Studies for over 12 years, giving countless public lectures and serving on the executive committee of its board. He enjoyed being with people, both the powerful and the young. We at CKS mourn his passing and express to his wife Francisca and his four children our deepest sympathy.
If you wish, you may make a donation in memory of Dr. Benny Widyono. Thank you.
Jacques Hennessy, Chairman
Natharoun Ngo, Director