When Sihanouk died several months ago, many people in Cambodia saw his face on the moon (I wonder what NASA had to say about that). A lot of Khmer people abroad scoff at the sightings and the massive outpouring of grief in Cambodia for the former king. This is hardly surprising since most overseas Khmers do not think too highly of the late Sihanouk.
I think most people tend to blame Cambodia’s tragic history on its leaders. While leadership is certainly a major factor, having lived in Cambodia for the better part of the last four years, however, I would have to say that it is more than leadership.
Whatever leadership the country has had in its history, it’s also largely a reflection of the the culture and the mentality of the people.
Contrary to what many in the West might think, the problems currently crippling Cambodia does not revolve around a few bad people holding the whole population hostage. Most Khmer people would love to be part of the rich and powerful elite so that they could step on everyone else. Everyone wants to be king…perhaps that’s why Khmer people revere the king so much.
It’s not a matter of good Khmers versus evil Khmers. It’s the Khmer mentality. The mentality has to change. I repeat: THE MENTALITY HAS TO CHANGE.
The solution is not as complicated as one might think. All it boils down to is CHARACTER.
Poor character is what has gotten the country to its current predicament. If the inhabitants of a house are lazy, dishonest, disrespectful of one another, what do you think will become of the house? The same goes for a country. Cambodia a huge dysfunctional family that no member wants to be a part of. Just like members of family that can’t stand one another, everyone in the country wants out. They have little self-esteem, unity, or faith in the community.
I’m sorry, I don’t mean to diss my fellow Khmers, but that’s how I see it. What I’ve observed over the years about folks in Cambodia is that they’re incredibly smart in the things they shouldn’t be smart in… and incredibly ignorant in the things they shouldn’t be ignorant in. That’s why things are the way they are.
If the country is to reverse course, we need to wake up and aggregate our excrement…that means to get our shits together.
What does it take? Start with things like honesty, hard work, fairness, and love and respect for your fellow human beings. These aren’t Western or Eastern, Buddhist or Christian, Democratic or Socialist qualities. They’re universal qualities, which means they transcend all cultures, religions, and political ideologies. If everyone somehow wakes up and embrace these values, things will start to fall into place, and trust me, they will get much, much better. It’s really that simple.
I was watching an episode of an HGTV show called “Million Dollar Rooms” the other day and came across a segment showing a house adorned with what appeared to be a piece of wall sculpture stolen from Angkor Wat. The narrator said it was an ancient piece “from Thailand” dating back to 600 A.D. The piece was said to be worth some $300,000. The bas relief was unmistakably Khmer, bearing the same designs as those on the walls and columns of Angkor Wat.
In fact, you can do a search for “Khmer sculpture” on eBay, and you will get a bunch of results showing high-priced Khmer antiquities– apparently once stolen from Cambodia– being offered for sale. Many of the sellers are from Thailand. These items will end up in private collections all over the world.
I was visiting Angkor Wat some years back and was appalled by the amount of antiquities that had been stolen by thieves. I saw bare walls and columns where the bas reliefs had been chiseled out and sold on the black market. I saw scores of stone sculptures with missing heads. These items one way or another have found their way into private collections. These are priceless national treasures that belong in museums and historical sites in Cambodia, not as ornaments to decorate some rich guy’s home.
Can you imagine the torch of the Statue of Liberty stolen by thieves and later flaunted on TV by a private collector? It’s unimaginable because America is today what the Khmer Empire was during the 12th century. In fact, they’re making a Hollywood movie about the Khmer Empire that cast John Cena, Angelina Jolie, Jet Li, and other foreigners in the leading roles. No one seems to be bothered that King Jayavarman VII is being portrayed by a white actor in brown skin makeup.
It seems that everything about the once mighty Khmer civilization is being bought, sold, plundered, and exploited in every way possible. And no one seems to care.
I invite everyone to check out my new website, Khmeroldies.net. If you like classic Khmer songs sung by the golden voices of Sin Sisamouth, Ros Sereysothea, Pen Ron, and others, then you’ll love this site.
I prefer old Khmer songs and listen to them almost on a daily basis (damn, I feel old!), so this is a labor of love. I try to keep a good selection of oldies music performed by deceased artists as well as current Khmer singers.
…i think mr oudam is doing the right thing by not allowing download from his site. that way, people can to listen to music on his site and go out [and] buy the dvd or cd to support the khmer artists.
If people really want to download music from this or any other website, there are various ways for them to do so. There are websites and software programs available to allow people to capture streaming audio and video from the internet and save them on their computers. I just don’t want to make it too easy for visitors to do it.
The aim of this site is to foster appreciation for Khmer music and encourage support for the Khmer artists and production companies that bring them to us.
The Khmer performers need to make a living, too. If everyone downloads and copies Khmer music from the internet and stop buying CDs and DVDs, the production companies will no longer have an incentive to create them. Consequently, Khmer music will cease to advance, and some Khmer female singers will be forced to earn their living selling their bodies instead of their talents.
As a strong advocate of Khmer pride, unity, and prosperity, I certainly don’t want this to happen. I want this site to become a place to showcase Khmer talents and to encourage our people to support one another by going out and buy the music they like.
I am an avid consumer of Khmer music and own hundreds of Khmer CDs and DVDs myself. When buying a CD or DVD I always inspect it thoroughly to make sure that it’s original and not a boot-leg copy.
While many people, including myself, download music from the internet, we always have to ask ourselves whether our actions will lead to positive or negative consequences. For instance, when I copy a few of my favorite Khmer songs onto a CD and give it to a friend, I probably do very little harm because if my friend likes the music, he will go out and buy the original CDs or DVDs. On the other hand, if I make a thousand copies of the CD to sell to others, my actions would be very hard to justify. I think moderation is the key.