A happy customer, much too young to reflect on history.
he rubber sandals forced on the Cambodian people under the rule of the Khmer Rouge
and shunned ever since are making a comeback among the younger generation.
The sandals, made from tires, are now seen as lasting longer and being of better
quality than some leather ones.
Cambodians stopped wearing the rubber shoes after the Khmer Rouge regime was ended
in 1979 because they were associated with Pol Pot and the killing fields.
Now, however, the sandals can be seen again in the stalls at Psah Chas (Old Market)
in the center of Phnom Penh.
The vendors are all ethnic-Vietnamese women. Those spoken to by the Post did not
know about the shoes' Khmer Rouge connection.
Leum Lang, 42, who came to Cambodia in the mid-1980s, said she was told by a friend
that the tire sandals lasted longer. Her son came up with the idea of making them
so that they resembled current fashion shoes.
They differ from the Khmer Rouge originals in having no strap and having metal studs.
Young students like to buy them because they look like the normal sandals that are
sold in the market.
The real thing - ex-KR soldier 'upgrades' from 'Pol Pots.
The mother and son duo have been in business for five months. Leum Lang said the
first three months were good with five or six pairs selling each day for US$3-4.
Now, the price is down to 8,000 Riel, but she can sell only three or four pairs per
Phan Kang, 18, from Prey Veng, who does construction work at the National Museum,
liked the tire sandals because they lasted longer - one year as opposed to the five
months his previous shoes lasted.
Nine-year-old Sok Ruotha, a student in Phnom Penh, said the tire sandals looked like
normal fashionable ones, but they were cheap and had a buckle on them that could
"My parents never told me about the Khmer Rouge tire sandals so I don't know
what they were like."
Perhaps one day soon, these too will be collectors items, living on only in the collective