Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Oh, Phnom Penh Euy!

The words to the song "Oh, Phnom Penh Euy" were written by a former Culture and Information Minister and Phnom Penh Governor, Keo Chenda, in 1979. Keo Chenda also wrote the national anthem of the People Republic of Kampuchea (PRK). Oh, Phnom Penh Euy was composed by Morm Bunnaray, who was working at the national radio station in Phnom Penh. The song was sung by Morm Sokha, a sister of Morm Bunnaray, just a few months after the Khmer Rouge regime collapsed. According to Sum Chhumbun, the Under Secretary General of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, Morm Bunnaray defected from the PRK government sometime in the 1980s and was later imprisoned. Later, he passed away. His sister, Morm Sokha, ended up in the United States as a refugee. Keo Chenda has also passed away. The song then seemed to have been disappeared from the public.

The use of the song, as well as the celebration of the liberation of 7 January, was controversial in the 1990s when the political parties were reunified. In late 1990s, the song return and was heard on public media.

Listen to song, please click:

Nhean Socheat
Documentation Center of Cambodia


Ministry bans remake of classic song

The Minister of Information has issued an order banning the broadcast of a remake of “Or Phnom Penh Euy”, a popular song often aired in the lead up to the January 7 anniversary of the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge regime. In a letter dated Monday, Minister Khieu Kanharith argued that rewording the lyrics of the original song, which was written by former municipal official Keo Chenda in the early 1980s, was “improper” regardless of the intentions behind the cover version.

“The meaning of the song called “Or Phnom Penh Euy” expresses fully enough the sufferings of the Cambodian people in the Pol Pot regime; the standing up of the patriots to save the nation; the creation of the Kampuchea United Front for National Salvation on December 2, 1978; and the great victory on January 7, 1979, when the nation was liberated and the people met each other again,” the letter stated. It added: “Phnom Penh is the heart of our country and survived after it was seriously destroyed for three years, eight months and 20 days.”

Classic track

“Or Phnom Penh Euy”, which translates as “Oh, Phnom Penh”, refers to the capital city as being “representative of the Khmer spirit”.

“Oh, Phnom Penh, I missed you so in the three years I left you, with suffering the enemies separated me from you,” reads an unofficial translation of the original song.

“Oh, Phnom Penh, when I met you again, your suffering was better.”

The new song retains the melody of the original but substitutes in new pop lyrics, according to Khieu Kanharith’s letter, which was sent to radio and television stations nationwide with orders to cease broadcast of the new version “immediately”. The lyrics to the new song could not be obtained Tuesday.

San Putheary, director of the Information Ministry’s Audiovisual Department, said “Or Phnom Penh Euy” was part of Cambodia’s “national heritage” and had to be “protected forever”.

“We really won’t allow all the radio and television stations to broadcast the new song with the same music at all,” he said, but declined to answer questions regarding what sort of punishments people who breach the ban would face.
He said officials did not know who had produced the new version of the song. Khieu Kanharith could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Yim Sovann, spokesman for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said songs can help teach the younger generation “what happened so they do not do the same thing”.

Copyright © 2011 The Phnom Penh Post. All Rights Reserved.


Independently Searching for the Truth since 1997.

“...a society cannot know itself if it does not have an accurate memory of its own history.”

Youk Chhang, Director
Documentation Center of Cambodia
66 Sihanouk Blvd.,
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

1 comment:

  1. I searched about the old song for very long time and I just pass on your blog. Thank for your sharing bong Dara but unfortunately the link to the old song don't work any longer.Can you tell me other link where can I find the old song?
    Thanks you in advance.



About Me

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Dara Duong was born in 1971 in Battambang province, Cambodia. His life changed forever at age four, when the Khmer Rouge took over the country in 1975. During the regime that controlled Cambodia from 1975-1979, Dara’s father, grandparents, uncle and aunt were executed, along with almost 3 million other Cambodians. Dara’s mother managed to keep him and his brothers and sisters together and survive the years of the Khmer Rouge regime. However, when the Vietnamese liberated Cambodia, she did not want to live under Communist rule. She fled with her family to a refugee camp on the Cambodian-Thai border, where they lived for more than ten years. Since arriving in the United States, Dara’s goal has been to educate people about the rich Cambodian culture that the Khmer Rouge tried to destroy and about the genocide, so that the world will not stand by and allow such atrocities to occur again. Toward that end, he has created the Cambodian Cultural Museum and Killing Fields Memorial, which began in his garage and is now in White Center, Washington. Dara’s story is one of survival against enormous odds, one of perseverance, one of courage and hope.