Monthly Archives: February 2011

Mobile operators in Cambodia

“It’s irritating when I tried calling my friend several times but I couldn’t get through.”

Error message always appears each time I try calling my friend

Error message always appears each time I try calling my friend / by: Dara Saoyuth

With modern technology, your phone can function as a radio, music player, calculator, word processor, etc. at the same time. However, I don’t think it has changed its’ main function, verbal communicating.

According to figure from the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, there are 7,115,246 mobile sets and 108,882 desk phone set in use in Cambodia by March 2010 with 9 mobile operators including MobiTel, Mfone, Hello, Star Cell, qb, Excell, Metfone, Smart Mobile, and Beeline.

I have to say that some of the above mobile operators are doing quite well with their service though they charge a bit higher and don’t have plenty of promotions as the others.

To me, personally, I prefer using a better service company to a mobile operator that always has promotions but its’ service is not good.

This week, I bought a new sim from one mobile operator because this company gives a lot of promotion to its customer; however, I suffers from its service because when I call to my friend at night, I cannot get through though I have tried dialing more than 30 times.

You all can imagine if you were in trouble, saw a crime or traffic accident, and you want to call for help, but after trying more than 10 minutes, you cannot get through anyone because of your mobile operator.

I think you have to reconsider this trade-off between good promotion and good service before you decide to select your mobile number.

By: Dara Saoyuth

The Students talent exhibition of Faculty of Fine Arts

Artwork of student of Faculty of Fine Arts

Artwork of student of Faculty of Fine Arts / by: Dara Saoyuth

It’s 5:30 in the afternoon of Thursday, February 17, and hundreds of people are milling around on street 178, looking in a building as if they are waiting for something to happen.

It is neither a coup nor a protest – the people are there for the opening ceremony of the largest exhibition ever which organized by the Royal University of Fine Arts.

The program hasn’t started yet, so public are not allowed to go inside the university exhibition hall except the Cambodian Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Him Chhem, some journalists, and some dignitaries.

An event organizer recognized me in the crowd outside the building and invited to enter with some other journalists.

The building that is mostly empty and silent is now filled with 198 pieces of artworks in various forms including paintings, drawings, sculptures, bronze-castings, photography, and interior design projects produced by graduate and undergraduate students at RUFA.

The students talent exhibition of Faculty of Fine Arts is the first student graduate student show since the 1960s and its main goal is to give the students the opportunity to present their creative works to a broader audience.

I start walking from one end to the other end of the room, entering every room along the corridor since there are artworks everywhere, even on the walls along the passage. Even though I don’t have much knowledge about art, I have a look at every single piece of art because they are so beautiful.

About 30 minutes later, the formal ceremony starts when the Minister of Culture cuts the symbolic ribbon following a speech by the university’s rector and some remarks by the minister.

The program lasted for about half an hour, but it was hard for me to pay attention to the speeches because the hall was so stuffy. There was also some noise from outside as people there kept talking loudly.

In his remarks, the Minister of Culture said he appreciated the students’ efforts producing these works of art and this exhibition shared the national policy under the slogan “Cambodia, Kingdom of Culture”.

As soon as the speeches ended, people standing outside start squeezing into the building. It was a mix of Cambodians and foreigners. I felt packed into the building and it was getting stuffy since there was no air-conditioning, only some ceiling fans.

I began to feel hungry and wanted to leave the hall, but when I saw more people were coming in, I decided to stay there to see how the audience reacted to the artworks. I was standing against the wall, observing all the activities and surprisingly a young lady, with a snack and drink on a large plat, come to offer me some. I realized that she was a volunteer at the event, so she had to make sure the audience had something to eat and drink. Everyone in the room also enjoyed eating and drinking with their eyes still focused on the students’ achievements.

Seng Vesal, 23, is a senior student majoring in painting at RUFA and had 12 pieces exhibited in the event. Seng Visal said he was very happy since it was the first time he had his work exhibited. “Students will try to compete against each other to make their work available to show to the public,” said Seng Visal.

If you haven’t seen the exhibition, don’t be worry because it will be on display permanently.

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By: Dara Saoyuth
This article was publish on LIFT, Issue 59 published on February 23, 2011
Exhibition Hall at the Royal University of Fine Art
#2, Street 178, Khan Daun Penh, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
(Behind National Museum)


“Lost Loves” – a true story in Cambodia

One shot from "Lost Loves"

One shot from "Lost Loves" / Source: Internet

This evening, I’ve spent my time watching a movie that I cannot wait until the following day to express some thoughts though tonight I have to review some lessons for tomorrow morning quiz.

Hearing its’ title, Lost Loves, at least some of you may imagine that the movie is about someone who lost people they love. Your guest is right!

“Lost Loves” is a feature film based on real life experience of the film producer’s wife Kauv Sotheary who is also star in a film as Amara.

The film start with an old woman standing near a pagoda recalls her past life in Khmer Rouge Regime. Then the movie take us to early April 1975 showing Amara living with her grandfather, brothers and children in a middle class family in Phnom Penh. Amara’s grandfather is a former Cambodian army general and her husband is a general in Lon Nol regime. Amara’s grandfather is asked by some high ranking officers to leave the country because they know that their soldiers cannot win against Khmer Rouge; however, he decides to stay in Phnom Penh with his family because he wants to keep his fame.

Khmer Rouge takes over Phnom Penh in 17 April, 1975, and happiness in Amara’s family starts shaking when Khmer Rouge soldiers kill government soldiers who guard her house and force her family to leave the house.

Members in her family start packing their belongings and leaving their house with a car that they cannot drive but pushing it forward since too many people leaving the city by walking on the street. They stop at a pagoda where lots of city people are told to stay there waiting for the top people to decide where they should go after being evicted. The follow day, her family departs the pagoda to a village already arranged by Angkar and on the way there, her grandfather is took to kill by Khmer Rouge soldiers because they will not let former high ranking officers alive.

Her family members are separated. Her little children have to stay with the other villagers’ children, her brother has to work and stay with men group, and her oldest daughters has to stay in youth group.

All of her family members have to struggle to survive but some of them leave her one after another because of different reasons including illness, and killing.

This movie not only shows the writer’s tragedy, but also reflects how society at that time looks like since most people in Pol Pot regime also face the same things of losing their relatives as Amara.

As a Cambodian film producer, Chhay Bora keep repeating that “we are not Hollywood” and he said the film was made on a very low budget.

“Our film crew and I didn’t stay in hotel or eat at any restaurant during the shooting because we have to think of the money we have,” said Chhay Bora at Bophana Center this evening after the film screening; adding that they cook their own foods and stay with villagers to save the budget.

Despite the fact that the movie was shot by Cambodian with a low budget, but I can say this achievement is great and deserves commendable from the audiences. You guest what! Some people including my friends burst into tears at some scenes during the screening and I think that they may feel pity for the actors.

So far, this film have been shown in some foreign film festival and Chhay Bora said he will fix some little point in the movie for an example, the song.

“Script, acting, directing, and location are very important points to consider if you want to produce a good film,” Chhay Bora told the audiences his experiences in producing Lost Loves.

By: Dara Saoyuth

Bringing rural schools up to speed online

About 32 kilometres outside Phnom Penh stands a public secondary school that is one of the small, but growing, group of government-run schools in the Kingdom connected to the internet. Thet Visith, a grade 9 student at Samraong Leu high school in Kandal province, said he is only able to use the internet for two hours a week, but he is still grateful for the free use of online resources. “It is good to have an internet connection at my school because I can look for interesting news and gain new knowledge easily,” he said.

E-learning, as the process of getting knowledge and skills through digital sources is called, can bring educational material from around the world directly to students is places that are otherwise isolated. In the 21st century, it is one of the most powerful tools that a person can have for learning, but in Cambodia there are millions of students who go to schools with no internet access at all.

It’s already been 14 years since the first computer user sent a message over the internet, to their counterpart in California, but the reach of the internet is still very limited in the Kingdom. Due to a lack of electricity, digital infrastructure and technology education, students in remote areas of Cambodia struggle to connect to the internet at all, let alone use it regularly as an academic resource.

According to data from the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications obtained received earlier this month, the Kingdom had 291,589 internet subscribers out of 14.8 million people total, just under 2 percent of the population, not including people who access the internet through cell phones or other mobile devices. According to these statistics, internet penetration in Cambodia is one of the lowest in the world, and well behind the average in Asia, 21.5 percent, and the world average, 28.7 percent.

The students at Samraong Leu secondary school are able to utilize the internet thanks to Japanese Asia Pacific Technology, as part of a Research and Human Development project. Project manager Tuy Lay Veasna said they are working with hospitals and high schools in Kandal province to promote the use of the internet in education and health services (E-health). He added that the project is in its pilot phase, but he hopes to get more funds to expand the initiative to other remote areas of the country.

Ean Savy is one of the few public school teachers in the Kingdom who teaches computer classes, but she said many of the students at Samraong Leu secondary school aren’t benefiting due to a lack of English skills or familiarity with technology.

“People in remote areas do not know what a computer is, and some are even afraid of computers,” said Chea Sok Huor, the project manager for iReach (Information for Rural Empowerment and Community Health), a project with 10 centres in Kep and Prey Veng provinces, funded by the Canadian government, which provides the internet to students and residents in those areas so they can stay educated. “Bringing the internet to their areas helps them understand more and know where they can get the information they need.”

With the aim of helping children learn through creative exploration, CAMBODIA P.R.I.D.E., founded in 2005, is another organization looking to expand internet access in Cambodia. The Reaksmy Primary School in rural Preah Vihear province is their main focus, and so far they have given more than 300 students regular access to computers and the world-wide-web.

Despite the stated mission, student explorations aren’t completely self-guided. “We don’t allow students to use the internet independently because there are many things both positive and negative in the internet world,” said Svay Pearak, an English teacher at Cambodia P.R.I.D.E whose students are learning to learn through the internet.

Once students get to university, the internet is essential, said Hor Sokpolyne, an 18-year0old sophomore studying at the Institute of Foreign Languages, but she isn’t sure how crucial it is for younger students in rural places. “I wonder if the internet provides better standards of living to people in remote areas if there is still poor electricity in some places,” she said.

This is exactly the situation that Pen Sokun, the director of Damnak Ampil secondary school in Kandal province, faces in teaching his students to use technology. “I have only two computers running on solar power for more than 300 students. It is not enough,” he said. Only with more computers, and more teachers who can train students, will he be able to properly teach technology to the students at his school.


  • First computer in Cambodia with full-time internet connection.
  • Two commercial Internet Service Providers (ISPs) started to offer services


  • The Asia Foundation launched a network of 22 Community Information Centres, within two years they had half a million visits.
  • .kh Domain names are made available by Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.


  • The Open Forum of Cambodia made Khmer fonts, a Khmer software application called Moyura, and an all Khmer operating system available to the public

By: Dara Saoyuth & Cheng Lita

This article was publish on LIFT, Issue 58 published on February 16, 2011

The 2nd launching of KON Magazine

With the initiative of our professor, Tilman Baumgärtel, and all year III students from the Department of Media and Communcation (DMC), the magazine “KON. The Cinema of Cambodia” was successfully launched again at French Cultural Center (CCF) after its first launching at Meta House on October 15, 2010.

This evening, we screened 12 clips taken from some movies produced during 1960s and 1970s such as Panchapor Tevi and Preah Tenvong, and some contemporary movies like Mother’s Heart and Lost Love.

It was an amazing event to have Dy Saveth, a big star during 1960s and 1970s, join and share her experiences of being an actress during that time.

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By: Dara Saoyuth

TEDx hits Phnom Penh

Dara Saoyuth


Dara Saoyuth while joining TEDxPhnomPenh

I was very lucky to be one among the 150 people who had the chance to join the first TEDxPhnomPenh. I arrived at the event some time before it started, spotted some people I knew and we enjoyed chatting while waiting for the auditorium doors to open.

Then it was time! An event organiser announced some rules we should know because the presentations would be live streaming to people around the world and I felt a bit nervous to hear them say that everyone should choose to sit at a table with people they hadn’t known before. The reason for this was that they wanted us to get to know different people and share ideas after each session of the presentations.

A few minutes later, the people at my table were not strangers any more. We started sharing basic information including our names, where we were from and so forth.

Our conversation ended when the moderator announced the official start of the programme. Everyone concentrated on what each presenter was saying. Our conversation started again in the form of a discussion about the subjects given by the moderator.

Kung Nai, a Chapei Master, and Keeda Oikawa, a live painter and illustrator, came together to show their talents at playing Chapei and painting as a welcome addition to the event. After that, 12 presenters came on stage one after another to present their topics.

Even though it was a mix between Cambodian and foreign presenters, to me all the presentations were great. I can see very little difference between these two types of presenters, apart from the use of English. I felt that some Cambodian presenters could not show their full potential because of a lack of English skills. However, they all managed to keep it interesting, convincing and they inspired me through their expressions and meaningful content.

If I was asked to choose my top two Cambodian presenters, Kounila Keo and Phloeun Prim would be my choices. As the author of the Blue Lady Blog, Kounila presented the topic “Blogging: The New generation of Cambodia”. Blogs are also my favourite things to read in my free time. Putting a few letters, but big and mostly fun pictures, made me easily catch and remember the points she made. With her clear explanation and convincing voice, I decided to choose her as my first choice.

As a Cambodian who was raised in Canada from the age of three, Phloeun Prim was my second choice of the most convincing speaker. He didn’t focus much on the slides he showed, but used his facial expressions combined with his great intonation which nearly made me cry as he started narrating his own story from childhood. He made it very clear about why he loves Khmer art and culture and why we should try to protect it.

If there is another chance in the future, I would love to go to this event again.

Tivea Koam


Phloeun Prim during his presentation in TEDxPhnomPenh / by: Dara Saoyuth

Building the Future” was the theme for TEDxPhnom Penh, which was held last Saturday. Since there was going to be many great people who would be really amazing for me to meet and talk with, I would have felt very regretful if I missed the event.  However, I was fortunate enough to get the chance to join in.

TEDxPhnom Penh brought both Cambodian and foreign speakers from different backgrounds together – artists, social entrepreneurs, filmmakers, bloggers, human rights activists and software developers – who had interesting experiences in life and wonderful ideas to share on the stage with a passionate audience.

While I was part of the audience at the event, I could see most of the speakers were really energetic and inspiring in presenting their great perspectives for how we could build the future of Cambodia and the world and how individuals could contribute to development and peace around the globe.

Some speakers made me laugh, some made me think critically about their topics, some aroused my emotions on what they were talking about and some made me thoughtful. I can say that the topics which were presented during the event were undeniably motivated and beneficial to me as a part of the audience.

Though some speakers like Kounila Keo, Sithen Sum and Phloeun Prim were Cambodians, they provided interesting presentations with global visions for the development of Cambodians. However, the topic that impressed me the most was “Midlife Crisis”, presented by Mike Rios. It was so compelling to me, for he gave a charming and humourous presentation, but he also gave me an idea that I had not thought of.

He showed the evils of some advertising he had done, which made people think of being cool and awesome if they possessed those advertised goods, and then explained what made him quit his job and his push to use advertising for a better way of life for people. He said that sometimes people do not even know they inspire others to achieve what they want, and that people were interdependent, with one inspiring another. That really pushed me to think more of what I am doing and what I have to do to better my life and my country.

Chris Brown, a software developer, talked about how to fail in business by focusing on customers first rather than moving straight to product-focused issues, which gave me more ideas about to how to start a business successfully.

Colin Wright’s talk on “Extreme Lifestyle Experiments” gave me another taste of life, on how to make positive change to lives. Chris Noble’s presentation of “From Little Things, Big Things Grow” did inspire me to feel that the small thing I did today can make a bigger change tomorrow.

Besides gaining knowledge from the speakers, I was really delighted to share my ideas with the people at my table and get more ideas from the discussion sessions which TEDxPhnom Penh provided.

I am so proud that I took part in TEDxPhnom Penh for the first time and it went so successfully, but what I think they could do to make it better would be to have more speakers so I could learn more from them.

I can say this is the greatest event I have joined in so far and I would love to engage myself more in such events with the hope of knowing more people, sharing ideas worth spreading and listening to meaningful, motivating and fascinating presentations demonstrated by passionate speakers, both local and international. I do hope we will have TEDxPhnom Penh next year, but with more speakers.

By: Dara Saoyuth & Koam Tivea
This article was publish on LIFT, Issue 57 published on February 09, 2011

“Boyfriend” finish shooting

Kon Khmer Koun Khmer (4Ks) finished shooting their second film “Boyfriend” today after spending nearly a month in the process.

Today’s also my first day to see their activities since I’ve joined the group, and I realized that shooting film spent need a lot of patient and effort.

I’m waiting to see the film release soon and I’m sure that it’s gonna be a good one.

by: Dara Saoyuth

Some photos from TEDxPhnomPenh event

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