It is not that people stop to read books… it is that they are reading books in digital forms.
In Cambodia there is not a culture of reading and the process must start by supporting schools and creating a national campaign on education.
In Cambodia there is not a decline in the culture of reading books, as it is the case in many countries. They can say that during the last decade new generations read less and less books, but it is not the same in Cambodia. After the troublesome decades of wars and conflicts, there is not a culture of reading books and, frankly, there are very little efforts to promote reading. It comes especially in a time of crisis for the paper book before the advance of digitization. According to a report by Spanish blog Ser Escritor, only in Spain two bookstores are closed everyday, a phenomenon that happens in industrialized countries, while developing nations increase their consumption of books (Ordoñana, Merino y Mayoz, 2015.)
I just published my book “Introduction to Khmer language for Spanish people.” It is a long story starting in 1999 when I arrived to Phnom Penh without speaking even English. Looking Khmer lessons for Spanish speaking people like me proved to be a difficult task. There was nothing. Cambodia and its Khmer culture was so unknown to the Spanish world as Spanish was a rare thing for most Cambodians at the time. I remember that I began to know some Cambodian professionals in Phnom Penh, who have studied in Cuba and could speak Spanish. Many of them were doctors, since many Cambodians went to study medicine in La Habana under the Vietnamese occupation. Back in Cambodia, they got good jobs in the capital with their Cuban wives and speaking a beautiful Caribbean Spanish. Meeting a Colombian was a wonder for them and one thought me Khmer for some time.
There are about 20,000 Roman Catholic Christians in modern Cambodia representing the 0.15% of the total population that is mostly Buddhist.
Although Protestant churches state that they made the 2% of the Cambodian population with about 1,000 worship places in the country, their number is not official and they could be less than 10,000.
The second largest religious group of Cambodia is Muslims represented in the Cham minority that could be much largest than all Christians combined.
Cambodia is one of those few countries with a State Official Religion according to its Political Constitution: Theravada Buddhism:
“Cambodian Citizens of both sexes shall have the right to belief. The freedom of religious belief and practices shall be guaranteed by the State on condition that they do not affect other beliefs, orders and public security. Buddhism is the State religion.” (Art. 43)
A group of Catholic youth in Kep Province celebrating the start of Advent Season on December 8, 2014.
“After all the crazy night at Pub Street, I went to Eanna and I saw many Buddhist statues… so Inanna, the goddess of love, told me, clean my temple, especially of so much plastic and coca cola bottles” – Photo Inanna on the Ishtar Vase.
After reading about a tourist woman breaking a Buddha’s statue at the Bayon because goddess Inanna told her “to clean up the temple because there was too much rubbish, from the monks and other people” (see Daily Mail) I went to look for who was this Inanna. It could be possible that an ancient mystery of the Angkorian temples came to be revealed to a Dutch woman after a crazy night at the Pub Street? – in looking the true any hypothesis must be reviewed. Well, this Inanna is not a Khmer goddess and not even an Indian or Chinese, but Sumerian: the goddess of love, fertility and warfare. Her temple was in Eanna, an ancient city of Sumer and now located in what it is southeast Iraq, thousand of kilometers far from Siem Reap. So then, it was Willemijn Vermaat, 40, who was in the wrong place – not the Buddha’s statue. She must go to Iraq and try to break any national monument there. But I don’t think that Vermaat was the only person in the wrong place: Apsara Authority was much more in the wrong place: How is it possible that a woman breaks an archeological treasure in their nose? Where they were? Why so much daily incomes are not used to establish video cameras?
Here is our first video on the ISeeCambodia’s campaign for helmets and safety on the national roads. The proposal is to show the situation and to move the Cambodian youth to increase their own worry to spread the message. Send your video clips’ links in Youtube and we can publish in this blog. You can entitle your video as “Motorcrossing for Cambodian helmets” and show the situation in a short video wherever you are.
The Tao Pi Monument in July 2014. Photo by Chan Bora.
Aspect of the renovated Tao Pi Monument in Sihanoukville (Two Lions Square.) The public administration includes new lights around the roundabout, redesigned the gardens – well… practically removed the gardens and put tiles – and gave more visibility to this monument that represents Sihanoukville. They mean the Royal Family of King Norodom Sihanoukville, the founder of the city that was the first big urban project to open the doors of Cambodia for international trade after the French colony. The construction of the only international sea port of the Kingdom began in 1955 in a jungled area that today is the 4th Cambodian city after Phnom Penh, Battambang and Siem Reap. King Norodom Sihanouk passed away on October 15, 2012 in Beijing. This month Cambodia marks the second anniversary of the Father of the Nation that has his perpetual memory in this port city.