Cambodians can add another set of prognostications to the list of gloomy ones that have hit the country lately.
This one, the Moha Sangkran almanac, is traditionally published in time for Khmer New Year, and this year’s edition predicts that the year of the ox won’t be easy.
“Only half of the crops can be used, and another half will be destroyed,” the Moha Sangkran predicts. “Half the people in [the] country will feel sorrow,” it adds.
And the book—much like the Economist Intelligence Unit—doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to civil unrest.
“The people will meet turmoil or obstacles provoked by unrest,” the book states.
It also contains a series of predictions for the three-day celebration of the Khmer New Year. Turmoil, cruelty, disease and fire will strike Phnom Penh on the first day of the celebration, followed by high prices and cold weather on the second, the book gloomily predicts.
But things will subside by day three, and farmers should plant rice on that day, it adds.
Em Borin, the writer of the almanac, said the astrological methods he used to determine the forecast are too complicated to explain.
“I used the old traditional methods,” he said.
Last year’s New Year almanac also predicted difficult times in the form of drought, high food prices and unease for the common things that all came true.
Miech Ponn, an adviser to the Ministry of Cults and Religion, said that the predictions of the book are not always accurate, though many people still believe them.
“In the past people who worked in agriculture relied on this prediction. My father also relied on this almanac prediction,” he said. “Most Cambodians believe in this because it is our tradition.”
Seth Vannareth, director of the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology’s weather department, said technology has progressed enough that more accurate forecasts are available.
“It doesn’t mean I don’t believe in the traditional way, but I believe in the true methods with clear data,” she said.
And the methodology is fairly straightforward, she said.
“We predict the future depending on the past and present data to get the future result. And it is done with mathematics and probability,” she added.
Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun denied that the year of the ox will be as bad as the books says.
“It is just a prediction. It is not true,” he said. “Last year during the Royal Plowing Ceremony, it was predicted that that rice crop would not be good. But we had a surplus of rice.”