An estimated 500 copies of the first VCD in the minority language of Cham Muslims have been sold locally and abroad since the karaoke album was released in early January, according to the aspiring record executive behind the project.
Hak Arifin, 26, co-director of the Champa Entertainment company, said on Thursday that about 200 of the VCDs—which cost $3 each—were sold in the US and the rest were purchased locally.
“Producing the VCDs is to promote the Cham language and preserve the culture,” he said. “I want all people to realize that there is a Cham language that is still used. The [VCDs] are not about the religion but about the language and culture.”
A group of Cham volunteers and students shot the music videos, which features the male Cham singer La Valaty, over two months in Chroy Changva commune in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district.
Hak Arifin, who also teaches economics at a local university, voiced his concern that bootleggers—who have already pirated the VCD in Chroy Changva commune—would ruin the fledgling project.
The VCDs contain songs about the preservation of Cham traditions, but also feature titles about fishermen and the beauty of Cham women. Hak Arifin said he would appeal for more financial support from NGOs and embassies to support the venture. La Valaty, 36, said that singing along with the VCD’s songs will help educate Cham people to live according to Islamic law.
“It is to the benefit of our Islamic people to educate the human beings to walk in the good path,” La Valaty said.
There are about one million Chams in Cambodia, only half of whom speak the Cham language, according to Hak Arifin.
Ahmad Yahya, a Cham opposition lawmaker who helped write the album’s ethnic language lyrics in Latin script, said he was proud to participate in the project.
“We are proud with ourselves because the Cham language has been lost to the public for hundreds of years after the loss of the Champa” [Empire], he said, adding that he wrote the lyrics in Latin script so that non-Cham people could sing the tunes.