Comedian Says Political Punchline Ousted Him

A popular pro-Funcinpec comedian struggling to find work on Cambodian television after he performed for the royalist party during the national election campaign, he said.

“When I asked the television station if I could perform, they said I couldn’t because there is an order to not allow me and three other comedians to work,” said Pok Thareth, 40, also known as “Lorcy.” He said that before the July elections, RCAF Television, Ap­sara Television and national station TVK wanted him to appear in many programs, but since the elections they are no longer interested.

The comedian alleged that National Television Director Mau Ayut ordered other station directors to stop him from working.

“I don’t know why he accuses me—I don’t know anything,” said Mau Ayut, adding that he is not sure if other directors would give the comedian a job.

Aspara Television Station Dir­ector Sok Ey San also denied allegations of discriminating against the comedian for supporting Funcinpec. He said Tuesday that Pok Thareth has not come to the station seeking employment since the elections.

“He never asked me for work, so I can’t offer him a job,” said Sok Ey San. “If he applied, I don’t know if I would accept him because I don’t know if the sponsor likes him.”

But Pok Thareth insisted he is being denied work because he is pro-Funcinpec. He said that Cam­bodia’s political leaders should protect the rights of artists.

“During the election campaign artists have the right to perform for any political parties that have the money to pay them,” Pok Thareth said. “Artist’s performances are just like mirrors to show the reality in society—the government should not put pressure on them.”

Pok Thareth said he is beginning to worry about continuing the lifestyle he is accustomed to because he is not making any money, although Funcinpec Secretary-General Prince Noro­dom Sirivudh and Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Rana­riddh have given him some aid.

But he said he is still concerned for his safety, citing the attacks on pro-Funcinpec singer Touch Srey Nich, who was shot three times by unidentified assailants on Oct 21, and Ta Prohm radio reporter Chuor Chetharith, who was shot and killed Oct 18.

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