Did Cambodia's First Lady mock Obama with greeting typically 'meant for servants'?

Last Updated: Fri, Nov 23, 2012 07:40 hrs

US President Barack Obama's historic first trip to Southeast Asia ended with a questionably disrespectful greeting Cambodia's First Lady Bun Rany shared with him.

Obama became the first ever U.S. president to visit Cambodia earlier this week, when he ended his four-day visit to the region by attending the annual East Asia Summit it was hosting.

The president had made it clear he was only in Cambodia to attend the summit.

According to the Daily Mail, Obama met Prime Minister Hun Sen that White House officials described as tense, with the president emphasizing his concerns over the Cambodian leader's poor democratic leadership model and the country's worsening human rights abuses.

Just before dinner, Sen formally introduced his wife, Cambodia's First Lady Bun Rany, to the president.

Rany greeted Obama with the traditional 'sampeah' greeting, a pressed-hands gesture that signifies respect for a person.

Where a person's hands are placed and how deeply they bow during the gesture indicates their level of respect for the person they are greeting, the report said.

Rany placed her hands at chest level and tilted the upper half of her body slightly, leading the editorial board at Investor's Business Daily to believe that she was showing disrespect to the president, the report added.

"First lady Bun Rany greeted Obama with a traditional "sampeah" pressed-hands greeting reserved for servants, a little dig that was probably lost on him but not to Asians,' the editorial board wrote.

A sampeah at mouth level is reserved for bosses, elders or higher-ranking people. For parents, grandparents or teachers, a sampeah is typically raised to nose level and when saluting the king or monks, the sampeah is raised to eyebrow level, the report saId.

According to Investor's Business Daily and a few bloggers, however, Rany's sampeah was only 'fit for a servant'. (ANI)

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