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De gustibus: PM urges TV broadcasters to show arts

De gustibus
Lamenting the destruction of traditional culture under the Khmer Rouge regime, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday called on television networks to up their programming of Cambodia’s ancient songs, dances and theatre.  

In a speech marking the 15th anniversary of National Culture Day, the premiere appealed for broadcasters to mitigate the impact of modernisation on Cambodian culture.  

Flipping Cambodia’s tourism slogan, the Kingdom of Wonder, Hun Sen said the “Kingdom of culture” was proud of its vast “tangible and intangible” cultural heritage, which needed to be protected.

“[We] have to pay strong attention for the development of human resources in all forms of the arts in accordance with the basis of traditional culture, identity, colour and rules − as the soul of our culture,” Hun Sen said in the speech.

The premiere mandated that both private and state-run television air at least one or two hours of traditional Khmer content a week to promote the country’s cultural past.

Concerned by the decline of instruments such as the chapai and traditional ayai call and response duets − in which a pair, typically a man and a women, playfully try to outwit one another through rhyme − Hun Sen warned artists to stave of the negative influx of foreign culture.

He also ordered artists and writers not to violate copyright, which he pointed out was a crime. 

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