Avoid Perils of New Year, Hun Sen Warns

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday warned Cambodians of the dangers brought by the Khmer New Year season, from traffic accidents and price gouging to raucous games involving hurling water and powder at bystanders, and beseeched citizens to be careful during the upcoming holiday.

Speaking at the inauguration of a new building at a pagoda in Takhmao City, Mr. Hun Sen said traffic accidents often spiked over the Khmer New Year holiday—during which many residents of Phnom Penh travel to their provincial hometowns—and asked Cambodians to drive safely and avoid drinking before hitting the road.

“What I’m asking for from citizens is that they use all means to avoid causing traffic accidents during Khmer New Year, because we are happy about the celebration of the new year, so do not make this celebration cause death, making your entire family hold a funeral instead,” he said.

The prime minister also made what has become an annual appeal to taxi drivers not to raise prices during the busy days before and after the holiday—although they rarely heed his call.

“Now the price of gasoline on the Cambodian market has been dropping, so do not increase prices for transportation during this period,” he said.

And striking a lighter tone, he entreated young people to avoid games involving throwing water and baby powder at each other and passing motorists, which have become popular in recent years.

“I appeal to youth to please play decent games, avoiding games that are not traditional that can cause accidents, such as throwing water on drivers driving cars and motorbikes,” he said.

“Rubbing powder or charcoal powder should also be avoided, because sometimes people rub powder on people’s faces but also take their earrings,” he added. “Or it will cause problems if you rub powder on other men’s wives and daughters.”

Kong Veasna, a 16-year-old student at Santhor Mok High School in Phnom Penh, said he would heed the premier’s words and refrain from throwing baby powder.

“I agree that it is not good, as it makes the girls’ nice dresses become spoiled with powder,” he said.

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