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City nixes Khmer Krom ceremony

City nixes Khmer Krom ceremony

CITY officials have rejected a proposal for a June 4 public ceremony marking the 61st anniversary of a French colonial ruling that formally ceded former Cambodian territories in the Mekong Delta to southern Vietnam, according to a letter dated May 21.

Khmer Krom advocacy groups had planned to hold the ceremony in the park outside Wat Botum, with organisers expecting to attract up to 5,000 people, including 2,000 monks.

The letter, signed by Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema, states that the organisers should send a new proposal to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, and suggests that they hold the ceremony at Chaktomuk Conference Hall in order to maintain “security and good public order”.

Thach Setha, executive director of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community, which is organising the event, said he has already contacted Minister of Culture Him Chhem, who told him that the Chaktomuk facility is closed for renovations.

He said that he sent another letter to Kep Chuktema on Wednesday, again seeking permission to hold the ceremony. He added that the event had already been organised and would go ahead whether or not City Hall gives its official blessing.

“We cannot miss this because the King has sent his representative to participate in the ceremony. So we must hold the ceremony as planned,” he said.

Kep Chuktema could not be reached for comment on Wednesday, while Koet Chhe, deputy chief of the Municipal Cabinet, declined to comment, saying he had not seen Thach Setha’s follow-up letter to the governor.