Water Festival Concludes With Ceremony for Rowers

King Norodom Sihamoni, Prime Minister Hun Sen and National Assembly President Heng Samrin yesterday presided over a ceremony concluding the Water Festival and honoring the champions of this year’s boat races.

According to government officials, no serious crimes were reported during this year’s festivities, despite higher attendance and a higher number of boats competing in the races. King Sihamoni awarded trophies to the representatives of nine undefeated rowing teams and met the cheers of the rowers floating past his pavilion with bows and waves.

“We are very happy because this is a great honor for our homeland,” said Bin Seng, a 42-year-old rower whose 22-man boat from Kompong Speu province edged out a team from Kompong Chhnang province for first place in its category.

As Mr Seng and his fellow rowers waited to be presented with their trophy, Pum Bunchanoath, an assistant at the government’s events planning committee, showed them and the other team representatives how to appropriately bow to the King.

“I am very happy we came in first and will get the trophy from the King,” said Rath Vutha, a 21-year-old rower on the 70-man boat from Kompong Cham province that logged this year’s best time. “Last year we came in second and this is much better.”

Pong Savrith, deputy Phnom Penh military police commander, said yesterday that no one was badly hurt as racing boats capsized.

“Eighteen boats capsized but no one died and no serious injuries,” said Mr Savrith.

Mr Savrith said that the most important case facing his officers was the disappearance of a child visiting Phnom Penh for the festival but he declined to give details.

Municipal penal police chief Chuon Narin said that though police had not yet finalized their reports for the festival, crime appeared to have decreased since last year.

“There have only been minor crimes like bag and necklace snatching, because we cracked down,” said Mr Narin.

Mr Narin said that, though traffic in Phnom Penh was chaotic during the festival, it seemed to have improved marginally because large trucks were ordered to bypass the city.


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