Pagoda Chief’s Boat Outrows PM’s Festival Teams

Boats sponsored by Prime Minister Hun Sen and other top government officials lost to an upstart rival during this year’s Phnom Penh Water Festival.

Scanning the results of the competition’s 257 boats after the final races were completed on Tuesday, Bou Chumserey, chairman of the festival’s boat-racing technical control committee, said he did not see “any top leaders” crowning the rankings for speediest boats.

Instead, the first-place title went to Saray Decho Senchey, a boat sponsored by Kandal province pagoda chief Khann Sok Nim, with a total time of 28 minutes and 30.62 seconds over its several races.

Boats are often sponsored by tycoons and government officials, with Mr. Hun Sen’s teams commanding strong victories at past festivals.

But this year, Mr. Hun Sen’s top boat placed fifth.

“The Boat of His Excellency Deputy Prime Minister Sok An also lost,” Mr. Chumserey added.

Minister of Land Management Chea Sophara’s crew, on the other hand, took second place in its category.

City Hall spokesman Mean Chanyada said the event drew some 1.2 million people on Tuesday and 3 million over the course of the three days, exceeding authorities’ expectations by 1 million.

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