The Khmer Kampuchea Krom boat scheduled to participate in this month’s Water Festival will get to keep its name, despite an order from the festival’s organizing committee to change it.
The Permanent Organizing Commission for National and International Ceremonies ordered the Friends of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Association several weeks ago to change its boat’s name from “Khmer Kampuchea Krom Meanchey” or face banishment from the competition.
The commission offered two alternatives: “Proloeng Oknha Son Kuy” (the Soul of Oknha Son Kuy) and “Son Kuy Meanrith” (Son Kuy Powerful), but the association refused to change the boat’s title.
“We want to have the name, which means ‘success,’ because it applies to all Khmer Kampuchea Krom people who live overseas and in their hometowns,” association President Sann Sang said.
But last week, commission Deputy Secretary-General Chea Kean said the boat could keep the name “because it is Khmer, not brought from Vietnam.”
The association spent more than $13,000 to build the traditional Khmer racing boat for this year’s festival, hoping that it would strengthen relations between Cambodian Khmers and their ethnic Khmer cousins in Vietnam. Already, more than 100 Khmer Krom have volunteered to man the 13.4-meter boat, which fields a crew of 71. They are practicing two hours a day.
The Water Festival is scheduled for Nov 18 to Nov 20, when water flowing from the Mekong River into the Tonle Sap reverses course.
In 1949, Vietnam took possession of 24 provinces claimed by Cambodia, effectively sealing off millions of ethnic Khmers from their homeland.