Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Influences from abroad key to Khmer culture

Influences from abroad key to Khmer culture

Influences from abroad key to Khmer culture

Dear Editor,

I read with some concern the comments from Prime Minister Hun Sen calling for Khmer artists to refrain from using "other countries' styles" in books, films and songs ("Hun Sen decries reliance on foreign styles in the arts", July 23, 2009).

I understand the wish for Khmer culture to be encouraged and preserved. No one wants Khmer culture to disappear. Outside influences from other parts of Asia have always enhanced Khmer culture. The Hindu culture of the ancient Khmer came from the Indian subcontinent. Over the centuries, Khmer culture has been influenced by China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and, more recently, Europe and America. This has spread both ways, with Khmer art influencing large parts of Southeast Asia and being widely known throughout the world.

Cambodia, like many places in the region, is a microcosm of world culture. Culture is the lifeblood of any nation, and it's the influences from abroad that have shaped it. Compared to neighbouring countries, the Cambodian government and people preserve their culture and heritage well.

But what is culture? I have been told by many Khmers that the loud music at parties and weddings is part of Cambodian culture, that karaoke, Khmer rock music and television soaps are the culture of today. Modern Khmer artists and photographers have been producing very exciting and creative work blending old and new.

It may not be to everyone's taste. But today's art and entertainment will become tomorrow's heritage. Diversity should be encouraged, not derided.

What happens in modern art today will not change the wonderful culture and art of the past.

Do we want a Cambodia that is vibrant, creative and fun? Or do we want people here to live in a museum?

Dave Perkes
Siem Reap

Send letters to: [email protected] or PO Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length.
The views expressed above are solely the author's and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.

MOST VIEWED

  • Protests planned in New York as Hun Sen to attend the UN

    Prime Minister Hun Sen will speak at the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week. But US-based supporters of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) plan to throw eggs at his car as part of a series of protests to coincide

  • CPP: ‘Behave or Sokha suffers’

    The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) spokesman warned Kem Monovithya on Thursday that her attempt to damage “national reputation and prestige” would lead to her father, Kem Sokha, receiving even harsher punishment. Sok Eysan issued the warning as Monovithya, who is the court dissolved

  • News Analysis: Defiance can last for how long?

    The Cambodian government has so far stood strong in the face of mounting international pressure over its treatment of critics, but analysts, diplomats and ruling party officials now wonder how long the defiance can last. The European Union has led the firestorm of criticism, threatening

  • ‘Freedom fighters’ or ‘foreign puppets?’

    Former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) official Meach Sovannara was joined by supporters at a rally in California on Saturday, where a US lawmaker hailed members of the outlawed opposition as “great freedom fighters”. However, a Cambodian government spokesman said such a phrase belonged to