Wednesday, 24 March 2010 15:00 Sophan Seng
It’s February in Canada and the temperature is below the freezing point. The people are shaking in the cold, harsh winter wind and the ground is entirely covered by a thick layer of white ice. Pheak Kdey, who is 30-years-old, drives his BMW through the blistering cold every day to work at his gas station. But today, he is taking time to join a meeting with other ethnic Cambodians to discuss their action plan for 2010.
The six-strong Khmer Youth Association of Alberta has contributed substantially to its community since it was founded in 1994 in Calgary, a sprawling city in western Canada. Pheak Kdey, who migrated from a border camp in 1983 during the civil war in Cambodia, was raised and educated here, and now runs a family business.
Pheak Kdey is one of many young Cambodians who have grown up in a foreign country, and he said that this hasn’t always been easy. “My parents had a difficult time adapting to a new life in an unfamiliar culture, surrounded by people speaking a foreign language,” he said. “But I enjoyed making new friends at school, and I became a coordinator between my parents and other people in our community.” After graduating from high school, Pheak Kdey began working at a gas station and seven years later, he was the station’s owner.
Continue reading “Letter from Abroad: Struggling Life”
Letter from abroad 10-03-2010
Wednesday, 10 March 2010 15:00 Sophan Seng
You might be curious to know what young Khmers living abroad choose to do to entertain themselves in their free time. Surprisingly, many of them choose to listen to the same Khmer pop and karaoke music that is so popular in the Kingdom.
While riding in his car, I noticed that my friend Patrick owned a number of Khmer CDs, ranging from oldies to modern songs. “I have always listened to Khmer songs,” said 23-year-old Patrick Meas, who has lived in Alberta since he was very young. “Preap Sovat is my favourite singer.”
Considering that he has lived most of his life away from Cambodia, as a Canadian citizen, it is incredible to see that Patrick can sing “Beautiful Girls” in Khmer.
While the song was originally sung by Jamaica-American rapper Sean Kingston, it is very popular in Canada and has been repeatedly played on the radio here. The fact that an American song was translated into Khmer and now is being sung by Canadians shows the intermingling of cultures around the world.
Continue reading “Young Khmers abroad and the Khmer music”
Monday, 25 January 2010 15:01 Sophan Seng
Photo by: Rick Valenzuela
Economist and Nobel laureate Eric S Maskin speaks with the Post at the Hotel Cambodiana last week.
I agree with Professor Eric Maskin, who says that Cambodia has been at risk from a growing gap between rich and poor (“Nobel laureate to push PM on school reform”, January 20).
An unbalanced distribution of the wealth of the nation has worried many scholars besides Maskin, including David Jonathan Gross, who is also a Nobel laureate.
Cambodia can be viewed from two perspectives: progressive by comparison and progressive in actuality. If we compare the Kingdom to the past, we can see that anti-colonialism, the Cold War and globalization have played a significant role in Cambodia’s recent history.
The era of Lon Nol and Pol Pot must be evaluated in light of global cold war politics and the opposition between communism and democracy. Cambodia had no peace during this period, and the intractable conflicts led to mass killings and foreign intervention.
Though the media have focused considerable attention on this part of the Kingdom’s history, qualitative and quantitative progress since that time has sometimes been overlooked.
Continue reading “Bridging the poverty gap”
Thursday, 07 January 2010 15:01 Sophan Seng
A propoganda poster from the Khmer Rouge era calling for solidarity between the citizens of Cambodia and Vietnam.
Your article “PM blasts January 7 detractors” (January 5) didn’t demonstrate anything new for Cambodian politics. Leaders have always pronounced strong political rhetoric to create a clear dichotomy of pro- and anti-groups when this day has arrived. In reality, the government has consolidated full power to exercise over everything, including whether to celebrate this day or not celebrate. The current political environment in Cambodia has not given any clue of the possible threat to the stability of government at all. But why every year, when January 7 arrives, is there a flowering of incidents and controversial public speech in Cambodia?
The answers might be diverse. But I am impressed by the Khmer proverb which states: Veay tiek bong-erl trey, or, “to stir the water to see the fish clearly”. It has been 31 years since Vietnamese troops encroached on Cambodia’s borderlands, accompanied by Khmer Rouge defectors, to topple the Khmer Rouge regime of Pol Pot. The argument since has been endless. Vietnamese troops are presented in Cambodia as either liberators, or invaders, or both. In the past decades, the two debaters carried guns and ammunitions to fight against each other, at least between the Khmer nationalists based along the border and the Khmer troops based in Phnom Penh, and backed by a hundred thousand Vietnamese troops. But after the Paris Peace Accords of 1991 and the subsequent power consolidation of the Cambodian People’s Party, the debate remains only on lips and tongues.
Continue reading “The delusions of the January 7 debate”