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Ministry letter leads to axing of TV series

THE Cambodian Television Network will no longer broadcast the television series “Strange Married Couple”, after the Ministry of Information sent a letter demanding that it be removed from the air because it portrays women as “animals”.

The letter, signed by Secretary of State Ouk Prathna and dated yesterday, said the show had prompted a negative response from viewers. The plot of the programme, which aired three times per week, revolved around rich men making bids for wives.

“It shows the auctioning of women to be the wives for rich people, comparing them to people buying or selling animals,” the letter says. “It degrades Khmer tradition and devalues women’s reputations and dignity.”

Ouk Prathna could not be reached for comment.
CTN deputy general manager Pol Vibo said yesterday that in response to the letter, the network would no longer televise the series.

“Even though CTN is a private company, it works under the law,” he said. “It has to respect the law and preserve national traditions and culture. ”

But Porn Pong Botha, who wrote the screenplay, said the programme was a harmless product of her imagination.

“The author should have the freedom to make something new to attract the audience,” she said. “It showed negative points, and strategies to help prevent it from happening in society.”

She said the programme displayed “the national identity and Khmer identity”, and that it was intended to promote women, not degrade them.

“It provides moral value and education to the audience,” she said. “Now I do not have any motivation or willingness to make films.”

Out Chantea, a teacher at the Royal University of Fine Arts, said audiences should be allowed to make up their own minds.

“Audiences should watch until the end of the show in order to know whether there is a moral value to educate the audience or not,” he said. “Our film industry cannot survive if we do not support it.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SUN NARIN

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