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Ministry bans 'obscene' songs to save traditions

Ministry bans 'obscene' songs to save traditions

090318_04.jpg
090318_04.jpg

Claiming the ban will help save the Kingdom's traditionals, the Ministry of Culture has outlawed four songs in a pre-New Year sweep.

Photo by:
HENG CHIVOAN

Minister of Women's Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi, is in support of the new ban on obscene songs. 

THE Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has outlawed all songs with rude or obscene meanings. The proclamation, which immediately bans five popular Khmer songs, was made Friday and signed by Culture Minister Him Chhem.

Under the country's latest ban, all music vendors, artists, singers, comedians, pop musicians and band members must cease selling, producing, playing or singing any songs that could seriously damage the country's traditions, customs, culture or honour. The ban also applies to business people who lease loudspeakers through which music is played.

Five songs have been immediately outlawed: Somchbab Mekhum Yoak Srov Tao Bok ("Ask the Commune Chief to Take the Rice to be Pounded"), Krapoeur Mintean Thom ("The Crocodile Has Not Yet Grown"), which contains a word play about a young woman's virginity, and Khloy Ta Chean, Khloy Bang Chach and Khloy Chang. The last three song titles are word plays on having sex.

"We have banned these songs because their titles and meanings are very obscene," said Sim Sarak, administration and finance general director at the ministry. He added that the government had acted now to ensure the songs were not played during Khmer New Year, which begins next month.

Sim Sarak said the ban also applied to any other songs that were considered offensive.

The Minister of Women's Affairs, Ing Kantha Phavi, applauded the announcement and said it could help to reduce the number of rapes and other sex crimes in the Kingdom. She said a cross-ministerial committee had been set up to look at songs and videos to encourage traditional cultural values and the promotion of women.

"[Sex movies and obscene songs] seriously affect Cambodian society, as they are the cause of many rapes of underage girls," she said. "If you read the Khmer papers, you see rape cases almost every day. When the perpetrators are arrested and questioned, they often reply that they committed the crime after watching sex movies."

Sim Sarak said the ban was not meant to prohibit singers, comedians and others from composing songs or comedy sketches.

"We encourage them to compose as many songs as possible that can educate the younger generation and the nation's people," he said. "We are banning just those songs whose meaning downgrades the country's traditional customs and culture."

The president of the Khmer Arts Association, Ieng Sithul, said he encouraged singers and artists to compose songs by using polite language: "Even though they are good at expressing their feelings to their audiences, they must consider the words they use in order to avoid denigrating our culture."

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