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Gov't: For Khmer New Year, have fun, but don't play around with fire (or water guns or sticks or cards)

Young people on Koh Dach island smear powder on a motorbike driver during Khmer New Year in 2014.
Young people on Koh Dach island smear powder on a motorbike driver during Khmer New Year in 2014. Hong Menea

Gov't: For Khmer New Year, have fun, but don't play around with fire (or water guns or sticks or cards)

This year's list of Khmer New Year's warnings runs the gamut from incense and candles to sticks and water guns.

A few days ahead of the festivities, Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday appealed to those celebrating the New Year to be careful with fire, especially incense sticks and candles. Authorities chimed in with warnings of their own over playing with water guns and the practice of whipping passing motorbike drivers with bamboo switches.

During a graduation ceremony on Tuesday, Hun Sen urged people to be careful with fire as well as when smearing passers-by with powder, throwing water bags and swiping at unsuspecting moto drivers with thin pieces of bamboo – a practice he said is “played” in some parts of the country.

“During Khmer New Year days … please be careful about incense sticks and candles which might cause accidental fires,” Hun Sen said.

Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Khuong Sreng, for his part, reminded people not to gamble during Khmer New Year. He also warned them not to harm others by throwing plastic bags full of water, shooting water guns or throwing powder at passing motorists, which could endanger people’s lives.

“Authorities will take legal measures against people who act against the law by causing danger to others and affecting the tradition, national dignity and the safety and national security,” Sreng said.

Kirth Chantharith, National Police spokesperson, said all police departments and police stations have been urged to prepare and reserve enough officers to maintain order.

“We have prepared the forces to maintain the safety, security and order during the Khmer New Year days, but we also ask the people and the national and international tourists to cooperate well with authorities by promptly reporting if a crime happens,” he said.

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