Comedy programs mocking NGOs that are critical of the government continued on television Sunday, this time appearing to poke fun at US Ambassador Carol Rodley for remarks she made at an anti-corruption concert last week.
For the second day in a row, sketches by the Koy comedy troupe aired on Bayon TV during a live concert, accusing some NGOs of censuring the government in order to secure international donor funds.
In a speech during one skit, a male comedian said, “NGOs are just criticizing and cursing the government for corruption. But who built roads, schools and developed the country in every way since 1979?”
In an apparent reference to Ambassador Rodley’s claim that the Cambodian government loses $500 million every year to corruption, the comedian added, “Some accuse the government of millions of US dollars in corruption based on fake information produced by NGOs who just write bad things about the country without thinking of the country’s reputation.”
The program began with a sketch depicting an NGO worker speaking with three grilled banana vendors. “You guys earn very little money,” one performer said. “Come along with me and create an NGO to criticize and curse the government…. We can ask for a lot of money from outside the country,” the performer continued.
US Embassy spokesman John Johnson said Monday that he had heard about the television program, but said, “We still have no comment.”
Chuong Chy, the leader of the Koy troupe, said Sunday that the programs were his group’s idea, and that the government had not influenced them in any way. He could not be reached for further comment on Monday.
Phay Siphan, Council of Ministers spokesman, said Monday that he did not know if the government was involved in the production of the skits.
“I know I’m not a comedy producer,” he added.
Government spokesman and Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith could not be reached for comment on Monday.
On the streets of Phnom Penh Monday, reactions to the programs were mixed, although most people interviewed said that they had not watched the comedy show.
Vorleak, a 25-year-old saleswoman for a phone company located near Soriya shopping center, said that she watched the programs over the weekend. “I am sure that the show will not help to reduce or stop corruption,” she said.
But make-up vendor Phor Kanha said that the programs reflected the reality of the good things the government is doing for Cambodia.
(Reporting by Seng Khunnearie, Bethany Lindsay and Kuch Naren)