Municipality Calls the Tune—More Khmer Karaoke To Be Sung

Along with fighting crime and keeping the peace, Phnom Penh police may soon have a new duty—making sure the city’s karaoke patrons are singing enough Khmer songs.

Municipal officials have agreed to implement stricter controls over Phnom Penh’s karaoke parlors, including a quota on the amount of Khmer-language mu­sic that must be sung.

“We want all karaoke [parlors] to have two-thirds Khmer songs and one third foreign language songs,” Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara said. “[Custom­ers] can sing whatever foreign-language songs they want….But revelers should sing two thirds Khmer songs.”

The municipality’s plans were hatched Monday by city officials at their weekly meeting at City Hall.

Phnom Penh Deputy Gov­ernor Seng Tong said the municipality will also begin taking action to shut down karaoke shops loc­ated near schools in the city. Other parlors that have adversely affected social harmony in the city will also be considered for closure, he said.

“We will have another meeting to reach a final decision next month. [But] if they have affected social interests, we have to take action to close them down,” Seng Tong said.

Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara sharply criticized the number of foreign nationals working in city karaoke parlors.

As for requiring that patrons sing more Khmer songs, Chea Sop­hara said the initiative will encourage sales of Khmer-produced compact discs and improve Cambodian culture.

Chea Sophara also lamented the number of Thai films shown on Cam­bodian television channels.

“All this broadcasting of Thai films is an eyesore,” he said. “Why are they not Khmer films? There is nothing interesting in Thai films.”

He said he will write a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the matter.

      (Additional reporting by Kevin Doyle)

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