Bayon Comedy Show to Activists: ‘Be Careful’

A new television comedy show featuring slapstick violence against a misguided rights activist de­buted at 8:00 pm Saturday on pro-government channel Bayon TV.

Prominent comedian Ou Bun­na­rath, better known by his stage name Kroem, produces and acts in the show, “Ang Sith Proyat,” mean­ing, “Overuse Your Rights, Be Careful.”

The first episode comprised a se­ries of sketches in which a rights ac­tivist named Touch teach­­es villa­gers about their rights. The villa­gers then overuse their rights, re­sult­ing in the destruction of the com­munity. Touch is blamed for the social unrest, and villagers then beat him.

In one sketch Touch explains the idea of equality to a young man who is engaged to be married and has agreed to pay for the ce­remony.

After learning about equality, the groom-to-be demands that his fi­ance’s poor family pay half the costs, resulting in a broken en­gage­ment. The young man then becomes en­raged and pummels the rights ac­tivist.

Ou Bunnarath, who starred in a pro-CPP comedy lampooning op­po­sition leader Sam Rainsy and Fun­cinpec President Prince No­ro­dom Ranariddh before the 2003 elec­tions, listed mutual re­spect be­tween husband and wife as one of the lessons taught in the show.

“It aims to teach people to re­spect each other, because if we re­ly on overused rights, we can’t live in Khmer society,” he said.

“Our country can’t be like other coun­tries. In European countries they can’t beat their children, but in Cambodia children must re­spect their elders.”

Cambodian Center for Human Rights Director Kem Sokha criticized the show. “That weekend comedy show broadcast on Bayon TV is essentially against real human rights ac­ti­vists and democratic rule,” he said.

Chea Vannath of the Center for So­cial Development said she doubt­ed the show would have much effect on people’s perception of human rights NGOs, citing surveys about citizens’ confidence in such organizations. “Somehow the NGOs are number one,” she said. “[People] trust NGOs even more than the pagoda, believe it or not.”


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