Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Writer's name change marks bitter history

Writer's name change marks bitter history

Writer's name change marks bitter history

man.jpg
man.jpg

Pich Tum Kravel

A GOVERNMENT official has become the first Cambodian to win a South East Asian Write

Award.

Pich Tum Kravel, an under-secretary of state at the Ministry of Culture and Fine

Arts, won the award after submitting three works for consideration - The Art of Writing

Poems, The Historical Event of Cambodia and The Khmer Shadow Theater Sbek Thom.

The 1999 SEAWrite awards were given to short-story writers from 10 countries in the

region: Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore,

Vietnam and Thailand.

Tum Kravel is a typical Khmer artist. His life embraces his art even down to his

name, which he changed after the Pol Pot times.

Tum is the name of a famous character in Tum Teav, a play in which he acted from

1960 to 1975.

Kravel means: "to make a hole in my ear to remember something in my life,"

he said chuckling.

He said his name change marked Cambodia's bitter history, particularly the Khmer

Rouge genocide.

"This name is a souvenir of my life and my country. I took this name as a memory

of past events in our country," he said.

"You know how many times the regimes have changed in Cambodia? There have been

a lot of changes just in my life," he added sadly.

Tum Kravel uses a range of subjects for inspiration, even politics.

He has written poems about the land Cambodia lost to Thailand and Vietnam. And in

his book The Historical Event of Cambodia he criticized former Cambodian leaders,

including King Sihanouk.

He said a writer cannot be blamed for writing a true history - leaders should accept

the history of their country.

Occasionally he writes about himself.

An extract from his SEA Write submission reads:

"In my life, I have hardly seen the progress of Khmer culture.

" On the contrary, for the most part of my life, I have only noticed the deterioration,

the loss and the destruction of national culture by various destructive causes.

"Nowadays, although I am having difficulties in my living condition as well

as in my career because of the shortage of financial resources, I still have strong

determination, as an artist and contributor of developing Khmer culture, to help

improve the national culture to blossom as a diamond flower, and to participate in

establishing the garland of diamond flowers in Southeast Asia, ASEAN, with peace

and security and to become a part of the progressive world flower."

He said the SEAWrite is a good way for Cambodia to reintroduce her culture to the

world through the competition.

Tum Kravel said he did not believe he was a particularly good writer because he often

had to compromise his work to favor the leader or regime of the time.

He claimed that Cambodian writers in every generation had done so.

"I think that because previous writers were concerned for their own security,

that's why a lot of books of Khmer lore don't have the name of the writer on it,"

he said.

Tum Kravel said Khmer writers should be guided by their conscience to tell the truth

of the regime they live under.

He plans to ease off on his writing and do more research in an effort to improve

his failing memory, he said with a laugh.

He said he did not drive a motor vehicle because he was too absentminded. He said

he stopped driving in the 1960s after having too many near misses with other vehicles

as his mind drifted from the road to his writings.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM to vet NY holiday dates

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance submitted a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen asking him to formally set a five-day national holiday from August 17-21 to make up for the Khmer New Year holiday in April that was postponed. Finance minister Aun Pornmoniroth sent

  • Cambodia rejects UN rights claim

    Cambodia's Permanent Mission to the UN Office in Geneva on Friday hit back at David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression after he raised concerns over the repression of free speech and

  • Snaring may spawn diseases

    The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has warned that snaring of animals has become a crisis that poses a serious risk to wildlife in Southeast Asia and could spawn the transmission of zoonotic diseases to humans. Its July 9 report entitled Silence of the Snares: Southeast Asia’

  • Ex-party leader, gov’t critic named as secretary of state

    A former political party leader known for being critical of the government has been appointed secretary of state at the Ministry of Rural Development, a royal decree dated July 9 said. Sourn Serey Ratha, the former president of the Khmer Power Party (KPP), told The Post

  • Residence cards set for over 80,000 immigrants

    The Ministry of Interior plans to grant residence cards to more than 80,000 immigrants to better keep track of them. The ministry announced the plan on July 10, following the results of an immigration census. “An inter-ministerial committee and many operational working groups have been set up

  • Kingdom produces PPE gear

    Medical supplies from Cambodia have been donated to member countries of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to assist in the fight against Covid-19, said an ADB report published on July 9. The report stated that the supplies were donated as a response to global efforts to

  • Kingdom, US vow stronger ties

    At an academic forum on Saturday to celebrate 70 years of Cambodia-US diplomatic ties, Cambodian researchers and officials expressed hope of encouraging US investments and for that country to deepen and improve its bilateral relations. Held at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, it reviewed the past 70

  • Fifteen Cambodians from Saudi get Covid-19

    The Ministry of Health on Sunday confirmed 15 more imported cases of Covid. The 15 men ‒ all Cambodian aged 21 to 33 ‒ arrived from Saudi Arabia on Friday via a connecting flight in Malaysia. They were travelling with 79 other passengers, three of them women. The ministry said 80 of the

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea