Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Monks get Elephants off the airwaves

Monks get Elephants off the airwaves

Monks get Elephants off the airwaves

The popular rock opera has been banned from broadcast

CAMBODIA'S Council of Ministers called last week for a suspension of any further television broadcasts of the rock opera Where Elephants Weep pending changes to the script and a meeting between the national epic's writer and director, and the Kingdom's Supreme Sangha, or council of monks.

The Council of Ministers met on Tuesday in response to complaints that the opera contained scenes deemed offensive to Cambodia's Buddhist community.

Phay Siphan, spokesman and secretary of state for the Council of Ministers, told the Post Thursday that the council supports the opera but has prohibited its broadcast on television and demanded the writer and director appear before the Sangha to answer specific concerns over content.

"We sent the results of our meeting to Prime Minister Hun Sen, and we are waiting for his reply," Phay Siphan said.

"Our government knows well that Buddhism is the state religion, and we will protect and promote it. But we also support and encourage [the opera's] global performance in order to promote our culture internationally [but with] improvements to some of the verse and scenes in the story," he added.

The opera premiered in preview performances in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 2007. It debuted in Cambodia on November 28 and ran successfully through December 7 before airing on local television in late December.

We sent the results of our

meeting to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

But Cambodia's Sangha complained in a December 30 letter to the Ministry of Cults and Religion that the show dishonoured the Buddhist religion and asked that it be banned from future stage performances and from national television, and that the cast and crew apologise.

American playwright Catherine Filloux, who wrote the opera, and musical composer Him Sophy told the Post last week by email that opera organisers were working with marketing managers and relevant government ministries to resolve the situation. Him Sophy added Thursday that opera officials were working on explanations for specific concerns raised by the Sangha.

Elephants is a post-Khmer Rouge take on the Cambodian classic Tom Tiev, telling the story of a Cambodian-American man who becomes a monk in order to find his Cambodia roots.

The Sangha took exception to several scenes in the opera but expressed particular concern to a scene in which an actor [Michael Lee] "left the monkhood and slept with a woman, but a moment later put the robe back on to be a monk again", the complaint letter stated.

MOST VIEWED

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

    The government has ordered all domestic and international internet traffic in the Kingdom to pass through a Data Management Centre (DMC) that has been newly created by the state-owned Telecom Cambodia, in a move some have claimed is an attempt to censor government critics. Spokesman

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh