My radio production course assigned me to do a commentary with my friend under a topic “Should authorities be blamed on Koh Pich Issue?”. My friend is on an opposing site that he think that the authorities should be blamed while I am on a supporting side that I have to stat that authorities should not be blamed.
We’ve just finished it as a radio course assignment and we’d like to share this piece with all of you. Cheers,
Cue/Introduction: Diamond bridge stampede claimed some 350 people’s lives and injured hundreds last month, on the last day of water festival. Critics and a number of people have been complaining about the tragic incident. They put blame on the authorities for the reason that they have not managed the event well. However, some people have the ideas that no one should be blamed for the incident.
Our program is going to have commentary on the topic “Should the government be blamed for the incident?” Our commentators Sun Narin and Dara Saoyuth will express their point of view on the issue.
Sun Narin (Opposing site): I could not imagine how such incident happen on that day? People got jammed on the bridge and could not get out. Cambodia’s prime minister Hun Sen said that “Nobody will be punished for the incident.”
However, Sam Rainsy opposition party Son Chhay pushed the ruling government to identify the people responsible for “organizing the festival and handling the crowd” and wanted them to be fired from the position. This includes Phnom Penh governor, head of the police and interior ministry.
In my opinion, the government at least should take actions with those officials because they are irresponsible for their duty.
Phnom Penh municipality, relevant ministry and police did not perform their work responsibly and carefully. Why didn’t police facilitate the people’s crossing the bridge? There is not a lot of police force deploying at the incident place at that time.
Moreover, the bridge is for the exit only, why people were allowed to get in and out? This is the reason causing the mass deaths. Why didn’t police deal with that problem?
Police could not help the victims urgently when the incident happened, keeping people stuck in the crowdedness more than 2 hours. This caused more people dead because of the suffocation in the stampede.
Finally, the organizing people don’t plan the ceremony well. They are not well-prepared to be ready for the unplanned incident. Comparing to other countries, when there is the some special event like that the government must guarantee that the safety for people. They are very careless about this.
I think this is the mass unprecedented deaths, so all these officials should be taken off from the position as the example for the other people.
Dara Saoyuth (Supporting site): Even though most Cambodians can think only who should be blamed when talking about tragedy on Koh Pich, to me, it is an opportunity to learn rather than focus on blame finding.
During the water festival, truck or big cars were not allowed to enter the city and even tuktuk couldn’t drive along riverside to avoid traffic jam and accident. I dared to say that Phnom Penh authorities were well-planned for the festival.
This year, people moved into the city more than the authority expectation, that in the evening of 22 November 2010, the accident happened. There are many reasons causing stampede including the lack of people morality that they push each other back and forth? Why should only authorities be blamed?
As we can see, immediately after the accident, the authorities were trying to help the victims in many ways.
The government ordered the Ministry of Health to pay much attention to the victims and also some officers to send dead people to their provinces with free of charge. The Phnom Penh Capital Hall also started reporting on the tragedy instantly and kept updating with new announcement related to the incident.
No one wants this to happen and also nothing can be changed. Now we should better find the solution instead of blaming.
One facebooker, Samsokrith Chhaly, urges the public to think of those who died during the Water Festival as heroes because they gave us priceless lesson for next year’s preparation. When development sides establish in Cambodia next time, I’m sure that they will think first about an effective risk management system.
Conclusion by Dara Saoyuth:
After listening to both supporting and opposing sides, do you still think that government should be blamed for the tragedy? If yes, what can you get from that? I know that it is Cambodian habit to accuse each other when something bad happen, but I suggest you to be more positive by considering it as a lesson. Again, no one should be blamed. Critics should take the effective risk management system for considering rather than putting blame.By: Dara Saoyuth & Sun Narin 22/12/2010
After having dinner outside with friends this evening, I decided to ride my motor with them to Koh Pich (Diamond Island). This is the first time I rode across the bridge after the tragedy happened on 22 November 2010.
Everything is quite different from the last time I went there before the bad accident occurred. The north bridge where hundreds people died because of stampede is still being closed after the accident, so I was able to go to the island and back to the mainland only by another bridge.
There are not many people on the island though today is the weekend. It’s very easy for me to ride around the island unlike the earlier time I was there, but I still think it’s better to have more people.
Most of the shops didn’t open especially entertainment places where now, there are only a few people there who mostly are the entertainment places owners themselves. It seem like no one dare to get on that entertainment instruments after something unpleasant happened.
I know that it’s not easy to forget about something happen on the last day of water festival in Cambodia this year. It take more time to calm people’s feeling that I myself have no idea when will this feeling goes away from Cambodians’ minds.by: Dara Saoyuth 04/12/2010
- Photos in the aftermath of Koh Pich accident (saoyuth.wordpress.com)
- Water Festival Ends in Tragedy (saoyuth.wordpress.com)
- Telling the story of a tragedy (saoyuth.wordpress.com)
- Cambodia: Stampede tragedy during Water Festival (ki-media.blogspot.com)
- Cambodia PM weeps for stampede dead (mirror.co.uk)
- Cambodia mourns stampede victims (bbc.co.uk)
Having come to Phnom Penh to pursue higher education from my home in the province, it is rare that I have a few days off to visit my family. So, rather than joining the millions of people who came to Phnom Penh, I made the opposite trip and went home for the festival weekend.
I was sound asleep in my parents’ house, enjoying the comforts of familiar places, when my parents woke me up. I was rather annoyed, seeing that it was 2am, but once I understood what they were telling me, questions began to come to my mind, which was having an impossible time accepting that hundreds of people have actually died on the Koh Pich bridge.
Most of the questions involved the status of my friends still in the city and I frantically dialed numbers and sent out messages to find out if people were okay. Some of my friends had a similar reaction to mine upon being woken up – annoyed – but it was worth it to me to hear their voices.
I left the province at 7am, with few of my initial questions answered. As soon as I finished my lunch upon my return to the city, I hurriedly put my camera, recorder, notebook and a bottle of water into my backpack and rushed to the Phnom Penh Post office. I was asked by my editor to help another reporter, who was from America, to shoot a documentary about the event. After being so far away from the event earlier in the day, I was anxious to find out what really happened in my nation.
The Cambodian -Russian Friendship Hospital was teeming with crowds of victims’ relatives as we arrived. I immediately became overwhelmed by sadness, but this was the truth I wanted to see. For those involved in the stampede, desperation was the only emotion there was in the days after the stampede. We spent almost an hour walking around the hospital and nothing like tiredness even crossed my mind. I was too filled with sympathy and pity to consider anything else.
There were two big boards with victims’ photos stuck on either side. Some people burst into tears when they saw photos of their relatives lying dead. I couldn’t imagine. My friends and family were okay but I was still barely able to look at the rows of photos.
I talked with a girl who was among the many family members roaming the halls and tending to their kin. I talked to a girl who said her aunt was still alive in a nearby room, but was unable to move any part of her body. She said a few more words, but then stopped. As her eyes filled with tears, I couldn’t bear to ask any more questions or push her to talk more. My heart truly ached for her and all the others in her situation.
The fact that I was carrying a camera bag and a tripod, along with a fixed camera hanging around my neck, didn’t exactly make me inconspicuous; and as I walked by, I heard people whisper that another foreign journalist was there to cover their tragedy. I was proud that I looked like a professional to these people, but I also felt like I should put down all of this stuff and help calm people who were crying, carry coffins into the truck, or care for those still suffering. This was the first time I had been assigned a story like this, and it made me realise how difficult it must be for journalists to balance their duty to tell the story of terrible events and help the desperate people around them.
I wanted to separate my job that day from my feelings, but I simply couldn’t. This is my country and these were fellow Cambodians suffering around me. I kept imagining how terrible it would feel just to find out that someone I know was among the people who died that night on the bridge. If it was someone I truly loved I can’t imagine how bad it would hurt.
I arrived home with an overwhelming sense of sadness hanging on me. I called my friends who also helped report the story and they were also unable to shake the depression and fear that the day’s events had inspired. I thought about how the water festival has always been a happy time for Cambodian people, and whether that would ever be true again.By: Dara Saoyuth This article was published on Lift, Issue 47 published on December 02, 2010 You can also read the article on Phnom Penh Post website by CLICKING HERE
- Water Festival Ends in Tragedy (saoyuth.wordpress.com)
- Photos in the aftermath of Koh Pich accident (saoyuth.wordpress.com)
- Cambodia stampede: ‘Bodies stacked upon bodies’ in Phnom Penh tragedy (guardian.co.uk)
Since I was at my hometown during Monday night’s stampede on Diamond Island’s north bridge, I could not capture the event.
Yesterday afternoon, as soon as I arrived the city, I went to the Phnom Penh Post office and was assigned to assist a foreign reporter in shooting documentary related to the accident.
I went to the Cambodia – Russian Khmer Friendship Hospital to the hospital where some bodies and victims were placed. I later went to Koh Pich to see the blessing ceremony for the deceased.
Below are some photos and video clips I shot in the aftermath of the tragedy.
Some of you might say it’s a bit late for Student Blog to run a story about an accident happened at Koh Pich (Diamond Island) on Monday night. As a Cambodian, I think this tragedy will never be outdated to write and it’s hard for me to let this event passed without having something on my blog.
Last night, I was at my hometown in Kampot province and while I was sleeping, my parents woke me up to watch a live broadcast program on TV. It’s around 2am at that time. Having a look on TV screen, I immediately felt shock because of what I saw and heard was about the tragedy that hundreds people died and other hundreds people injured.
A short time after I saw what was happening, I took my phones to call to some of my friends and relatives asking whether they are all right while lots of SMS came to my phone one after another asking whether I am ok.
Ki Media mentioned that the accident happened around 10:00pm on 22nd of November 2010. You can read many articles about this accident written in both English and Khmer and to assist you, I will recommend you some addresses below.
Website in English:1. Hundreds die in tragic end to water festival 2 Phnom Penh struggles to cope with tragic stampede_The Phnom Penh Post Hundreds dead as popular water festival ends in tragedy_International News
Blog in Khmer:1. ២២ វិច្ឆិកា ២០១០ មេរៀនមួយសម្រាប់ខ្មែរ 2. សាក្សី និង ជាជនរងគ្រោះថា សោកនាដកម្មបណ្តាលមកពីឆក់ចរន្តអគ្គិសនី 3. មហាសោកនាដកម្មកោះពេជ្រ Dara Saoyuth 23/11/2010