Beginning next week, Battambang residents will hear a siren every morning calling on citizens to pay respect to the nation, according to an announcement by the provincial governor posted to Facebook on Wednesday.
According to the document, dated February 29, all Battambang townsfolk are requested to observe one-minute of silence as a “symbol of respect for the national anthem” when a siren from the water tower is heard at 7 each morning.
“Please stop all actions, work or travel, and stand up. If you ride a motorbike or bicycle, get off and stand up until the one-minute sound finishes, then all action can continue,” reads the statement.
Oddly, the anthem itself will not be played, though meditating on it is encouraged.
Battambang provincial council member Sieg Sothang said the siren is a matter of tradition dating back to the Sihanouk years.
“I was born in Battambang, I know this clearly. At Phsar Nath, if you are eating noodles, porridge or drinking coffee, if you hear the siren sound, you have to put down the plate and stand up,” he said, adding that the practice was restored following the Khmer Rouge until the siren broke in 1995.
“Young people and newcomers ... may find it surprising,” Sothang continued, saying that while there is no legal consequence for not conforming, those who don’t “would be hated by society.”
Mao Rithy, a 42-year-old motodop, remembered the practice from 1995 and praised the new initiative.
“This is good. I will respect it,” he promised.