The Ministry of Information has banned two songs from radio and television after an outcry among social media users claiming the songs are too vulgar for broadcast in Cambodia due to the use of a crude word for “eat” that could be interpreted sexually.
The songs, “If You Can Eat, Please Take as Much as You Can,” by Keo Veasna, and “It Will Take a Very Long Time to Eat me,” by Chan Malis, use the coarse Khmer-language word “si” for “eat” in an overly suggestive way, the ministry said in a statement.
“The Information Ministry has noticed the two songs…have a huge impact on the national culture’s value, and the meanings deviate seriously from Khmer morality,” said the statement, signed by Information Minister Khieu Kanharith on Wednesday.
“The two songs do not have hidden meanings encouraging social morality and education, but rather the meanings affect the honor and value of Khmer women,” it said.
“To avoid social negativity through the dissemination of these two songs, the ministry requests that excellencies and…owners of radio and television stations to stop playing the songs.”
Nguon Soben, a songwriter for the popular Town Productions who penned the song “If You Can Eat, Please Take as Much as You Can,” said his company would respect the ban, but that anyone who heard a sexual message in his song was the one with the dirty mind.
“A small number of listeners think beyond the meaning of my song,” he said. “The word ‘si’ is slang that Khmer people use every day, such as ‘si bai’ for ‘eat rice’…and the meaning in the song does not make the value and honor of women look bad.”
“If I used the words, ‘If you can flirt, please flirt as much as you can,’ would that have mattered?” he asked.
However, Ms. Malis, the singer of “It Will Take a Very Long Time to Eat Me,” was more apologetic, uploading a video to her Facebook page on Wednesday evening acknowledging her blunder.
“Today I am releasing a video clip to apologize to brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers and friends on Facebook for singing the song ‘It Will Take a Very Long Time to Eat Me,’ which affected your feelings,” she said.
“I apologize for the mistake and the improper words in the song, and I promise that I will do good in the next songs.”