Phnom Penh Greets Rapidly Growing Water Festival Crowds

Burgeoning crowds along Phnom Penh’s waterfront were thickening by the minute throughout the day Friday however city officials said management of this weekend’s Water Festival was proceeding smoothly.

The municipality also said it had asked brothels in the capital not to so­licit customers on the streets in order to reduce the risk that oarsmen in the weekend’s boat races would return to their home pro­vin­ces with HIV.

“We ask in general for it not to be too open. It is for our dignity,” Dep­uty Governor Mann Chhoeun said.

He said the city estimated that as many as one million of an expected three million visitors had entered the city by Friday.

One thousand military police and 2,000 municipal police had been deployed in the capital’s streets, said Mann Chhoeun, adding that he hadn’t yet received any reports on crime. Among the 200 racing boats, which participated in qualifying heats Friday, only one had sunk, according to Chea Kean, deputy secretary-general of the Secretariat-General of the Permanent Organi­z­ing Committee for National and Inter­na­tional Ceremonies.

At a waterfront platform by Wat Ounalom, Radio Australia concluded two days of live broadcasts from Phnom Penh, including an on-air noodle breakfast served to 200 festival goers during the English-language service’s “Breakfast Club” program.

Executive Producer and presenter Seda Douglas, a former Cambo­dian refugee who was Radio Austral­ia’s first Khmer service presenter in 1992, said the broadcasts in Phnom Penh had also included reports on social and political affairs from the provinces as well as a performance by famed Chapei master Kong Nay.

Phil Kafcaloudes, also a presenter on the Breakfast Club, said an Inter­media survey had estimated the Khmer service’s daily one-hour FM broadcasts draw as many as two million listeners per week in Cambodia while the English service has as many as 178,000 mostly Cambodian listeners. Kafcaloudes said Cambo­dians interviewed Friday had shown a particular interest in Australian politics in advance of today’s parliamentary elections.

“It’s amazing the name recognition for [Labor leader] Kevin Rudd,” he said. “They don’t know [Prime Minister] John Howard too well but they know Kevin Rudd.”


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