Milk Commercial Strikes Utopian Chord With Hun Sen

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday lavished praise on a milk commercial that depicts a harmonious version of Cambodian society, saying that it could even help the country develop.

Addressing students at the National Institute of Education in Phnom Penh, the premier declared himself “fond of” the advertisement for Best Cow milk and discussed it at length.

“If the country was good like that, it would be very easy to govern,” he said.

Mr. Hun Sen went on to describe the “generous acts” portrayed in the advertisement, in which a beautiful woman driving down an impeccably clean street finds that even rough-looking men pause at intersections to allow her car to pass.

Later, a young man stops his motorcycle to allow a line of adorable uniformed schoolchildren to cross the street. When his passport accidentally slips out of his back pocket, two of the children retrieve it and hand it back with sampeahs all around.

“This spot is good and should be kept in advertising,” the premier said. “It is educational: It disseminates to people bit by bit so that those who abuse the law feel embarrassed. This is one way to solve the problem to make society develop.”

Best Cow is a subsidiary brand of the Vietnamese milk company Vinamilk. It has been distributed in Cambodia for the past five years by the BPC Trading Company, which is owned by the tycoon Phat Bun, according to the company’s general manager, Manoj Nutchanart.

He said the spot was filmed entirely in Phnom Penh and had been playing during the evening news on TVK, Bayon, CTN and TV9.

“We are thinking of the concept of the TV commercial for inspiring the people to do something good for society,” he said.

Social observer Chea Vannath said she was also a fan of the ad, which she praised for trying to improve society through changing norms, not creating more laws.

“It’s about behavior change instead of rule change, so instead of installing traffic lights to enforce right of way, [the people in the ad] are just saying, ‘Hey, you have the right to go ahead.’ It’s a much more civilized and polite way.”

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