THERE must be a lot of chest thumping and mutual praise happening at police stations
all over the country these days. At least if the law enforcement officers have sat
down and listened to the ten songs on the new music album that the Ministry of Interior
Yes, that's right. The Interior Ministry is producing records these days - the first
one being a grand tribute to the bravery and virtue of the officers of the police
In fact, this new chart topper comes straight out of the office of the Director General
of National Police. That is Hok Lundy. Or rather out of his Department of - no, not
propaganda, but Dissemination and Education.
And every single Cambodian police officer must be bursting with pride and self-esteem
after hearing himself and his uniformed colleagues celebrated in the ten tracks on
the album. If the lyrics are anything to judge by, nobody protects social order in
Cambodia better than the boys in blue, brown and green.
Just listen to a few of the song titles: Good model, Militia, Separated because of
duty, Movement of people's self-defense, The man that I love and Worry because of
Needless to say, there's a substantial amount of romance and love story mixed in
with the lauding of courageous police nobility. What would a brave law enforcement
officer be without an admiring woman - or two - by his side?
Also, the village militias, recently transferred from the Ministry of Defense to
the Ministry of Interior, get a couple of songs worthy of acclaim. People must be
able to take care of themselves. They should not rely 100% on the police for protection,
one song says, and then goes on to praise the police officers to sky-high heaven.
All songs on the new police album were written and composed by Menh Sothyvann, better
known under his stage name To. Apart from being a famous singer and guitarist, who
says he likes "heavy metal and rock 'n' roll", Sothyvann is also head of
the Music Office under the Department for Dissemination and Education.
"The police has worked for many years, but they never heard any praise for their
hard work. Now, with this album, they can be happy," says Sothyvann about the
motivation for the record.
Words didn't exactly come easy for him when composing the lyrics. Sothyvann wanted
to find "good models and masterpieces of police officers" to write about
in his songs. He went all the way to Battambang, Pursat, Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, Kompong
Chhnang, Kampot and Takeo provinces, looking for inspiration.
Many Cambodians have memories of encounters with policemen far less pleasant than the words of the Ministry of Interior songs ... if they survive the encounter at all
All together it took him three months to produce the album. The songs were performed
by a band of ten people - none of them law enforcement officers themselves.
The style is traditional Khmer 'Mahori' music which is a far wail from the Johnny
B Goode that Sothyvann in his reincarnation as To prefers to dabble in. One of To's
most famous songs is called Selling the rice paddies to go dancing - hardly an appropriate
activity for a noble, honest Cambodian police officer.
So far the police album has been produced as 1,000 cassettes and 200 CDs. The bad
news is that it's not for sale to the public. The cassettes have been distributed
to police stations around the country and the CDs are for higher-ranking official
"We cannot sell it in the market because it has the logo of the Ministry of
the Interior on it," explains Sothyvann.
That, he hopes, will change, when Police Songs Volume 2 hits the streets, possibly
within the next three months. Sothyvann is aiming to replace the ministerial logo
with that of a private sponsor.
"Next time I want to have less police and more love story in the songs. That
way we can attract more listeners," says Sothyvann.
If his superiors are satisfied, Sothyvann also hopes to produce VCDs with karaoke
versions of his police songs. However, that all depends on the financing. Sothyvann
says he spent $1,000 of his own money putting the first record together.
The Man that I Love sickens villagers
- When I see you walking from far distance,
how handsome you are;
your body looks so lovely,
bright like the full moon.
I fall in love with you;
you are gentle.
Where do you go?
Please let me know, My Lovely.
The uniform is gentle,
good-looking and so lovely;
short haircut and tender smile
that go along with words:
respect old people, raise clasped hands to God.
And your character,
this is the character of the Khmer son.
Kampuchea, the national policeman,
with good, clean and brave character:
protect the people,
be patient and hardened to serve the country,
the model of bravery;
struggle and eliminate cruel enemies.
I fall in love with you, Babe, for the whole of life.