Briefs: Lake Cycling Campaign, Royal Plowing Ceremony Called Off

2 min read
Landfilling on Phnom Penh’s Boeng Tamok lake in March 2022. (Danielle Keeton-Olsen/VOD)

Twenty-five youths will cycle around Phnom Penh’s quickly disappearing Boeng Tamok lake  on Thursday hoping to raise awareness about environmental issues.

Nann Pechpheary, a university student at the Institute of Foreign Languages, said she wanted to see the lake in person and learn about how it was being privatized and filled for development, and hopefully contribute toward preserving some of the lake.

But she was concerned that the bike ride could face a crackdown from authorities, Pechpheary said, recalling past environmental campaigns that had faced problems. Last month, Phnom Penh authorities prevented a group of activists from riding bicycles in honor of murdered environmentalist Chut Wutty.

“We are concerned,” she said. “I have done nothing wrong and this action is not putting any pressure on any person, so they should not do anything to us.”

Another participant, Loem Sok, said she hoped to spend time with others who also wanted the lake preserved.

“I want to know that some youths care about the Tamok problem, and what they care about,” Sok said.

Seang Mouylay, housing rights manager at Sahmakum Teang Tnaut, said his NGO was one of 15 groups helping to organize the all-day bicycle campaign with the hope of raising awareness.

“It is only one day to celebrate this campaign. It is so hard to make a change to help or do better,” Mouylay said. He added that no official request had been made to hold the campaign, as “it is only a normal cycling campaign — we think that it is not [needed to] ask permission.”

— Chhorn Raksmey

Royal Plowing Ceremony Again Put on Hold

Cambodia has suspended the annual royal plowing ceremony for the third year in a row, citing ongoing Covid-19 concerns.

Im Borin, the director of the country’s official research committee on astrology and Khmer traditions, said Wednesday that Cambodia would not celebrate the ceremony this year. It had not been held since 2019, he said.

“I don’t know when we will do it again — how could I know? But if Covid concerns come to an end, we will have to do it, and this has nothing to do with politics, just Covid-19,” Borin said.

Chhin Ketana, secretary-general of the National Committee for Organizing National and International Festivals, said he did not know why they were not holding the ceremony this year.

“If there is a plan to do it we will do it, but if there is no plan then we won’t do anything,” Ketana said.

— Roun Ry

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