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See no evil

I would like to contribute some more stories and knowledge about ghosts, in addition

to Sam Rith's article and classification of ghosts ("Fake blood, they say, keeps

the vampires away," Phnom Penh Post, Sept. 9-22, page 16).

Apart from the ones mentioned in Rith's story, I've found three more evil spirits,

namely Preth, Asorakai and Akruok.

Preth are the unseen evil spirits that roam the pagodas for food offered by their

living relatives, particularly around the Phchum Ben festival between the end of

October and early November.

According to Khmer belief, people who commit wrongdoings, such as killing, stealing,

committing corruption or cheating in the elections, would go to hell (if not to jail

in this life) in the next life. After suffering an unimaginably long time in hell,

they would then become Preth before being reborn as beasts. If they are lucky, they

might be reborn as a human being.

Asorakai are the sort of unseen evil spirits on earth similar to Preth. Some people

call them Preth Asorakai to refer to them both.

Akruok are another kind of large-size invisible spirits wandering the earth. Some

people claim to have caught sight of Akruok, walking astride pagodas or houses when

people are asleep at night.

These are some more kinds of evil spirits commonly known to Khmer people, especially

our young kids, who tend to believe in their existence the most. However, there may

be some other categories of evil spirits unknown to children.

Like discussing politics and corruption in Cambodia, talking about ghosts demands

precaution and the ability to secure protection for oneself.

When some people make mistakes, they usually blame the ghosts. One would stop his

or her friend from teasing them with a gun or a knife "lest the ghost pushes

the hands" and kills somebody.

[ When people cannot find the guy who has broken wind, they would then say, "This

means it's the ghost who did it." However, they may carefully not lay the blame

on the ghosts if they are near the graveyard at nighttime. If they do, they may show

their clean pair of heels upon hearing an unfamiliar denial: "Who said I broke

wind? I didn't do it." ]

If children cannot find something, they often chant Khmaoch yok leak, a'khvark rok

kheunh (Hidden by the ghosts, it'll be found by the blind).

Sometimes, it works. However, a veteran ghost expert who asked not to be named suggests

that one should also go to the police if he or she loses a motorbike or a car in

case he or she has wrongly and unfairly blamed the ghosts.

This is some additional knowledge about ghosts I gained working at the Phnom Penh

Post during the early and mid-1990s. For more stories about ghosts, readers can read

Post issues from 1993 and 1994.

Moeun Chhean Nariddh, Senior Ghost Reporter, Phnom Penh



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