It's the greatest news we - the Kampuchea Krom people - have ever heard and wanted
is to be able to hear and watch Khmer radio and TV in the coming years in the provinces
in the southern part of Vietnam from the Kingdom.
It sounds like a warm wrap to a long time cold body or rich food to a dying of hunger
stomach. We remember well the days before 1975 that we could listen openly to the
Khmer radio which aired publicly from Cambodia.
We are disconnected by geographical boundary due to historical events and seem to
be isolated, though, felt warm still when after tiring field work, back home with
the family gathered round the radios listening to dramas, Ayai, Chapei, music, news,
broadcast from Phnom Penh. Only then the separation, the culture gaps and the distance
naturally were set aside and the brotherhood was shared silently in our hearts.
Besides this, another glamorous point is that in those days we had Khmer Krom radio
and a TV station situated in "Prek Russey", or Can Tho as called in Vietnamese,
which mainly served Khmer purposes even though it was state run. We had monk citations,
Sin Si Sa Moth and Ros Serei Sothea songs for dedication, and even "Chao King
Kok" drama played on air. No differences in lifestyle between the pagodas and
villages compared to ones here in Cambodia then. So, bravely to say we are also Cambodians.
Ironically, since 1975 till now, we have been totally isolated and no longer have
the same such opportunity. Now all we can hear, watch or read is what the Vietnamese
government says so. We speak in translation to the Vietnamese dances, dramas, songs,
writings, etc. Everything is strictly eyed or censored. Khmer AM of Cambodia is poorly
received. VOA in Khmer is strictly prohibited. Karaoke tapes, VCDs, newspapers, magazines,
books in Khmer are brutally seized and inevitably the owners are facing detention
to whatever accusations carried out by the authorities. Amusingly, the Vietnamese
community in Cambodia can be considered as the noisiest neighbors, especially wherever
there is a karaoke parlour or a café. Newspapers, magazines, books, tapes,
etc from Vietnam can be purchased freely in Phnom Penh. Remarkably, radio and TV
programmes in Vietnamese can be heard and seen clearly across the Kingdom through
its relay station, which is known, located obviously just right in the Vietnam Embassy's
Ho Chi Minh once said "nothing is more precious than independence and freedom".
Is its meaning only for the Vietnamese?
We are waiting to see if the new, long-time awaited media of the Royal Government
of Cambodia can reach millions of Khmer Krom as planned. Also to see the practice
of the ever worthy word "freedom" as mentioned above equally to all the
races living in Vietnam not just only for the most powered race.
- Thach Hong, Phnom Penh