Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Irrigation "the most important subject"

Irrigation "the most important subject"

Irrigation "the most important subject"

TAKEO - When Tong Siv My won a scholarship to Russia 11 years ago to study

irrigation techniques he was very unhappy.

Agricultural studies were at

the time considered boring and unrewarding - the most lucrative subjects were

either medical or in the economic fields of finance and trade.

However,

only rich students, or those from strong "clans", were given such favored

scholarships, said My, 32.

Siv My was not connected to powerful patrons.

But he was very bright - and an orphan. Orphans were given special dispensations

to study, and from 1984 till 1989 he flew through his studies, the first year at

Tashkent University, then four years in the Ukraine.

On his return to

Cambodia, all his fears about studying irrigation seemed founded - he could not

find a job till 1991.

Now all that is changed. "I feel that irrigation is

the most important subject in Cambodia," says My, whose work is helping to

transform this poor border province into one with a more rosy, prosperous

future.

Siv My and his family fled Phnom Penh to the Sa'ang district in

Kandal province in 1975. He lived in a Khmer Rouge concentration camp after both

his parents and three brothers - two of whom were professors, one a doctor -

died of forced labor and starvation.

After the Vietnamese occupation in

1979, Siv My found his one surviving sister and spent a poverty-stricken year

farming.

Eventually he returned to Phnom Penh and, desperate for

education, applied for scholarships to Vietnam and Russia, and was successful

with both. He chose the Russian offer; though he was told to study

irrigation.

His big break came in 1991 when Oxfam set up an office in

Takeo and advertised for a Khmer irrigation technician.

Siv My could only

speak Russian, not English, so Oxfam sent a Bulgarian expert to begin its

irrigation program.

Siv My has been an integral part of the success Oxfam

has achieved in Takeo. His English is now "a world different than before, I can

speak and also write some English now," he says.

Siv My said his foreign

colleagues were very helpful and necessary for his agricultural work. He said

his last expatriate friend had even taught him how to use a computer in addition

to administrative and technical advice.

"There is something I lack so

it's like they've come here to fill in my practical knowledge," he

said.

Though he is now married and already has two children, 32-year-old

Siv My revealed that his other ambition was to pursue his agricultural studies

in Thailand for one or two years so that he could work more efficiently in

Cambodia.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Full country reopening to be decided in two weeks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for 15 consecutive days from the end of the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, Cambodia will reopen fully, albeit in the context of Covid-19 whereby people have to adjust their lives to

  • Phnom Penh governor: Show Covid-19 vaccination cards, or else

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng late on October 5 issued a directive requiring all people aged 18 and over and the parents of children aged 6-17 to produce Covid-19 vaccination cards when entering schools, markets, malls, marts, eateries and other business establishments that have been permitted

  • Cambodia seeks probe into 'false reports' on Hun Sen's alleged Cypriot passport

    Minister of Justice Koeut Rith on September 6 wrote a letter to his Cypriot counterpart Stephie Dracos requesting cooperation in investigating and providing the truth in relation to the "exaggerative and false allegations" that Prime Minister Hun Sen holds a Cypriot passport. In his letter, the

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • 'Pandora Papers' expose leaders' offshore millions

    More than a dozen heads of state and government, from Jordan to Azerbaijan, Kenya and the Czech Republic, have used offshore tax havens to hide assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a far-reaching new investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the