Hun Sen's comments aim to preserve traditional Cambodian culture; TV stations say they will comply with his suggestions.
Photo by: Sovann Philong
Traditional Cambodian dance is filmed at a performance. The PM has called for TV stations to focus more on traditional arts.
TV stations across the country are looking to modify their entertainment output to include traditional songs following Prime Minister Hun Sen's recent comments on what he felt was a neglected genre among the youth.
Hun Sen on Friday urged TV stations to set up talent contests for young people that would include assessing how well they could perform traditional songs.
"I want to ask all TV stations - aside from having the modern song contests - is it possible to create a traditional song contest?" he asked in a speech ahead of the 99th Anniversary of International Women's Day. "This should be done.... Now the younger generation thinks it is easier to sing [modern songs]."
Hun Sen said he was not looking to force TV stations immediately to follow his suggestion - this was simply "a recommendation to promote our culture".
"If you really want to preserve tradition, you should include both subjects at the same time for each contestant: modern and classical," he advised, adding that it was up to the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Information to promote traditional songs through television.
Ministry in support
Khim Sarith, a secretary of state at the Culture Ministry, said he supported the prime minister's idea and would be happy to provide experts in traditional singing to assist the contestants.
"We always support television stations," he said. "Whenever they ask us for teachers, we always send them along to help with scoring contestants."
Khim Sarith added that the Ministry of Information was responsible for questions of content of TV programs but pointed out that his ministry held events each year to promote the country's traditional cultures such as a national traditional dance festival.
Reth Chetra, deputy director general of Bayon TV, which is run by Hun Sen's daughter Hun Mana, said the station would definitely follow the prime minister's recommendation when putting together its next talent contest.
"I consider the PM's suggestion to be a good idea to help promote and preserve our culture and tradition," he said. "We can see these days that young people generally don't like classical music, but if next time they want to enter a song contest, then they will need to know classical songs."
Reth Chetra said Bayon TV was a leader in promoting traditional Khmer culture and already had a number of programs of that type.
Another large TV station, the Cambodian Television Network (CTN), is about to start its own talent search program. Yok Chinda, a senior producer at CTN, said by phone Monday that the company's employees would soon meet to discuss how best to set up the program.
Yok Chinda said the producers at her station had not yet decided how to implement a contest for traditional songs along with a modern song contest, but she applauded Hun Sen's comments. "We must do that. This will test the abilities of contestants to sing our country's traditional songs."