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CambodiaCircles sponsoring Barcamp Phnom Penh 2011


Founded earlier this year by initiative members living in foreign country with the support of Cambodian taskforce in term of content providing, Cambodiacircles.com has a great honor to be a co-sponsor in the Barcamp Phnom Penh 2011, a two-day conference focusing on technology.

Barcamp 2011 banner

Cambodiacircles.com is struggling to be more than a social networking site for Cambodians by gathering 6 groups of people who share the same interest, activity, or achievement. They are professional groups, civil servants, NGOs, Academics, Business Owners, and the rest of us who are still studying or unemployed.

Everyone can check every content in our website though you are not our member; however, with the registration to be our member, you can do more than that. You are allowed to post your comments, share your wonderful photos, videos, likes, and participate in our discussion once you become our member.

Please try it out!

CambodiaCircles : Get Connected to Success

22/10/2011
By: Dara Saoyuth 
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My assignment today_23 Sept 2011


Today, I don’t have to go out for an assignment because my boss said that I can stay in the office trying to finish my story as much as I can.

Besides that, it’s my turn today to present in front of my bosses and colleagues. I’ve chosen a topic about Khmer manuscript to present since it’s one of Cambodian heritage.

My presentation today

My presentation today / Photo by: Noy Kimhong

I’m so happy after I’ve tried my best for this public speaking:)

23/09/2011
By: Dara Saoyuth 

Vietnamese film festival in Cambodia


Original message from Metahouse,

Dear Cambodian Film Makers!

Dear Expat Filmmakers!

We like to invite you to meet the festival organizers of the YZINE FILM FESTIVAL VIETNAM

THIS SATURDAY, 17/09, 7PM

Vietnam’s YZINE Film Festival is an annual online short film festival (www.yxineff.com). It introduces new films from Vietnam to an international audience. The 2011 edition of the festival is themed “Belief”.

At Meta House the YZINE team presents a selection of short films and animated features from last year’s edition, including THINKING OF YOU  by Vu Quang Huy, UP IN THE TREE by Bui Quoc Thang and THE JOURNEY UNKNOWN by Do Dang Thuon. All films are screened with English subtitles.

The 2011 edition of this successful festival also includes Cambodian films.

We hope that you all take advantage of this opportunity to meet the YZINE programmers and introduce yourself to them. This festival provides an unique opportunity for you to exchange and to network in the region.

Please be our guests,

All best, your Meta House Team

#37, Sothearos Blvd.

Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia

Fixed +855- (0)23 – 224 140

Mobil +855- (0)10 – 312 333

Homepage: www.meta-house.com

email: mesterharm@gmx.net

Youth of the week: Morm Doungseth


AS soon as I stopped in front of a flat in Sen Sok district, I could hear a song playing inside. In the song, a man described his struggle to become a star by leaving his family, relatives and friends in the provinces and coming to the city to pursue his dream.

When I opened the door to the flat, there was a young man sitting on a plastic chair playing an electric guitar and singing along to the song playing on a nearby CD player. It was Morm Doungseth, our youth of the week for this issue.

While turning off the CD player and putting his guitar next to a big electric keyboard, Morm Doungseth told me the song I had just heard was one he had written to reflect his life story. He said he had just finished recording the song using his CD player, and with no musical instruments other than  his guitar and his voice.

Morm Doungseth, 18, has been working as a singer for Mohahang, a Cambodian music production house, for almost six months. Six songs by him, produced by Mohahang, can be found in markets; others are waiting in the queue to be included on forthcoming albums.

Morm Doungseth left his home town in Kampot province for Phnom Penh in 2008 and got into the music industry a few months later. “I’ve loved music since I was young, and in my free time I listened to all kinds of music and sang along,” he says.

“After my friends and my older brother saw I had talent, they encourage me. Since then, I have focused my efforts on music .”

Since he arrived in Phnom Penh, Morm Doungseth has worked as a DJ and singer in various nightclubs. But he doesn’t want to spend his whole working life doing that, so he’s seeking an opportunity to become a professional singer.

He sent an application to Mohahang, and at the same time joined a singing competition at Bayon TV. He left the competition at Bayon TV after being selected to be a signer at Mohahang, even though he had almost reached the final round of the contest.

As well as singing, Morm Doungseth  can play guitar and keyboards, because he studied at the Royal University of Fine Arts in 2009 and 2010. Working while studying will lead to problems if a student fails to manage his or her time well. As well as being a singer who is gaining more recognition every day, Morm Doungseth will be a grade 12 student in the next year.

“I won’t let my career interfere with my studies,” he says, adding that he always gives priority to study. “I study in the morning, I go to the company in the afternoon, and I review my lessons at night,” he says of his time-management plan.

“I will pursue a bachelor’s degree in English literature, because I love that subject, and in the future I will choose a job based on the subject I have studied, while working part-time or occasionally singing because that’s my favourite thing and my natural talent, so I shouldn’t throw it away.”

01/09/2011
By: Dara Saoyuth
This article was published on LIFT, Issue 86 published on August 31, 2011

Constructive Cambodian: The effect of wearing clothes of youth


I like to see them wearing short skirts, but I wouldn’t want my sister or my girlfriends to do it

Clothing is used not only to stay warm and preserve privacy but can also be an expression of personal identity and national culture. For example, traditional Cambodian fashion choices helped define our culture of modesty: small shorts, short skirts, and revealing tops used not to be very common.

But changes have begun taking place in recent years, especially among urban dwellers who began sporting more Western clothing styles. Even more recently, Cambodians have adopted styles from Korea and Hong Kong.

It’s now common to see young Cambodians wearing revealing clothes almost anywhere. Take a drive around the city, and you will see teens, some younger than 18, wearing very short, revealing skirts as if they couldn’t care less.

Even when going to school, some students would rather wear stylish shorts and skirts than obey formal Khmer student dress codes. Wearing these types of clothes can be thrilling and attention-getting, but can have negative consequences as well.

Female students wearing short skirts can distract male students, and even teachers, from doing their job, thus lowering the quality of education.

In an interview with the German press agency DPA, an English literature student said he had noticed many of his female classmates were wearing short skirts.

“We always turn back to see them,” he said. “I like to see them wearing short skirts, but I wouldn’t want my sister or my girlfriends to do it”.

On March 29, 2010, the Phnom Penh Post reported on a rally of more than 100 people who came out to urge Khmer women to dress more modestly. San Arun, secretary of state for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, told the Post that: “Wearing short skirts and sexy clothes causes rape to occur, because all men, when they see white skin, immediately feel like having sex.”

Other voices would strongly disagree. Sim Socheata sent a letter to the Phnom Penh Post’s editor saying: “We are witnessing that women and girls are being blamed for being raped and sexually harassed for the kind of places they decide to go, the kind of dresses they decide to wear and the length of those dresses.

“Instead of calling for women to stop wearing short skirts, the Khmer Teachers Association could have marched against male perpetrators who rape women and girls, men who commit violence in the famil and male teachers who sexually harass their students.”

Still, there are other problems. It may sound funny, but wearing sexy clothing can cause traffic accidents. If they have the power to distract students in class, it is also highly possible that miniskirtwearing women could distract the attention of drivers on the road.

Besides these effects on other people, female students may elicit poor opinions of themselves by wearing lascivious garments.

In Bill Thourlby’s You Are What You Wear The Key to Business Success, the author claims that when you walk into a room, even if no one there knows you, they will make 10 assumptions about you based solely on your appearance.

They may make many others, but you can be assured they will form conclusions about your economic level, your educational background, your trustworthiness, your level of sophistication, your economic heritage, your social heritage, your educational heritage, your success and your moral character.

So, wearing clothing that fits properly with your situation is very important because, as they say, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

For better or worse, people will determine who you are by the clothing and styles you choose. So if you’re a student, don’t dress like someone working in another career.

Media can be a powerful tool for promoting culture, but it can also be harmful because people, especially teenagers, will follow what they see projected in the media.

In 2000, Prime Minister Hun Sen banned pop stars in Cambodia from sporting short, sexy skirts when they appeared on television.

Quoted by Agence-France Presse (AFP), Hun Sen said: “These singers who like to wear sexy clothes look like they have not enough clothing. Don’t bring them on to TV, let them sing in nightclubs or restaurants. This is not Cambodian tradition, and we have our own rich traditions and culture.”

And even if lascivious performances have stopped on television, sexy photos of some stars still appear in local magazines.

Recently, Cambodians have become more active on the internet, including social networking sites such as Facebook. I’ve seen many teens upload sexy and scandalous pictures onto the internet.

To conclude, all I’d like to say is that only you can choose who you are going to be, and what you want others to think of you.

19/08/2011
By: Dara Saoyuth
This article was published on LIFT, Issue 82 published on August 03, 2011

Living in a pagoda, an alternative to stay and study in Phnom Penh_edited version


Student living in pagoda

Student living in pagoda / by: Pha Lina

Measuring just 8 square metres, it’s about half as big as a typical school classroom. One student is doing his homework on a table supporting two desktop computers, adjacent to a broken window. Another student strolls in and begins searching for some lost items in a row of old plastic closets on the opposite side of the room. All in all, the room isn’t much different from the other eight rooms at the monastery, each housing four students in a tiny space. Monastery 10 stands to the west of the main entrance to Mahamuntrei pagoda, surrounded by a number of stupas.

 Oeum Vanna, 25, who hails from Kampong Speu province and hopes to continue his education at university, has been living in the pagoda for more than three years.

As he walks out of his room in his student’s uniform, he explains how he came to stay at the pagoda. “My parents asked this pagoda for permission two years before my high-school graduation,” says the first of four children born to a Kampong Speu farming family.

Ouem Vanna says that living at a pagoda means one has to adhere to its internal rules, including being out no later than 9pm. That deadline is not flexible, as at that time, the monks lock the gates of the pagoda for the security of the students.

Not every student who comes from the provinces gets a chance to stay at a city pagoda. “Only students with good backgrounds who come from impoverished conditions are permitted to stay here,” says Sao Oeun, head of the monastery at Mahamuntrei pagoda. Sao Oeun is responsible for administering the activities in the nine-room building.

He explains that every student seeking to live at the pagoda needs to undergo background checks to make sure he has a good academic history, no criminal record, and has displayed exemplary behaviour, as judged by his village chief or school principal.

Sao Oeun says he doesn’t want troublemakers at the pagoda, because this would disturb the lives of the rest of the students.

In fact, monks from the provinces with hopes of changing their own pagodas in some way have first priority when space is being allocated at the pagoda. All the extra rooms go to students from rural areas. “There are not many rooms for all students who want to be in the Phnom Penh, but at least we can help some of them,” the head of the monastery says.

Mahamuntrei pagoda is not the only place students can seek accommodation when transferring to the city to continue their education. Samrong Andet, in Sangkat Phnom Penh Thmey, just outside Phnom Penh, is another pagoda that accepts rural students seeking to better their circumstances.

Since 1993, when the pagoda began accepting students, thousands have stayed there free of charge. Two hundred are currently staying at the pagoda. Ra Son, one of the four monks responsible for overseeing the pagoda boys, says the pagoda’s grounds contain 100 rooms in which students can stay, with two students occupying each small room and four in each large room.

Even after face-to-face interviews and extensive background checks, not all the miscreants can be weeded out, and some still commit offences while living at the pagoda.

“No one can be perfect all the time,” Ra Son says philosophically.

29/06/2011
By: Dara Saoyuth and Tang Khyhay
This article was published on LIFT, Issue 77 published on June 29, 2011

Living in a pagoda, an alternative to stay and study in Phnom Penh_original version


Dear student blog visitors,

Below is a feature story focusing on the way of life of people living in pagoda. Here is the original version (not edited from any editor) I wrote with another LIFT reporter. The reason I decide to post the original version is that I don’t think the published version (already edited and cut) is fully covered as what we intended to do.

Enjoy reading here,

A Buddhist statue in Samrong Andet pagoda / by: Dara Saoyuth

A Buddhist statue in Samrong Andet pagoda / by: Dara Saoyuth

It is smaller than half of the typical school classroom, about eight square meters. Equipped with two desktop computers on the desk just next to the broken window, one student was doing his homework while another entered the room searching for his clothes in the two old plastic closets opposite the computers. With separated bathroom, it is not different from other eight rooms in the monastery where four students squeeze together for shelter. As quiet as the other monastery, the monastery number ten stands on the west of the main entrance of Mahamuntrei pagoda, surrounded by a number of stupas.

From Kampong Speu province and hope to continue his higher education in university, Oem Vanna, age 25, has been living in the pagoda for more than three years. Walking out of his room in student’s uniform, he stated how he could get to stay in the pagoda.

“My parents asked for the permission in this pagoda two years before my high school graduation,” said Oeum Vanna, the first son born in a farmer family that has four children.

Oeum Vanna said that living in the pagoda has to adhere to the internal rule of the monastery for example he could not be out later than nine o’clock at night since monks will lock the gates for the safety of the others.

However, not every student who comes from the provinces has a chance to settle down at the pagodas in the city. “All students who were permitted to stay here have to be in good background and in poor living condition,” said Sao Oeun, head of the monastery in Mahamuntrei pagoda, where he controls a nine-room building.

He said everyday student who were able to live here has to be verified with no criminal record, good academic performance and behavior from the village chief or school principal, explaining that he did not want the trouble makers to stay in the Buddhist area, and this would also disturb to the live of other students in the monastery.

Since the priority to be in the pagoda was given to monks at the provinces who hopes to change their pagodas for some reasons, the remaining available space keeps for students from the rural areas. “There are not many rooms for all students who want to be in the Phnom Penh, but at least we can help some of them,” said the head of the monastery.

Mahamuntrei pagoda is not the only place where students can ask for accommodation while they transfer their study to the city. In Sangkat Phnom Penh Thmey just outside Phnom Penh, Samrong Andet pagoda is one of the pagodas that can accept much more students than others. Since 1993, students have been accepted to stay in pagoda and so far, there are thousands of them who used to stay there while another more than two hundred students are staying in the pagoda for free of charge.

Ra Son, one among the four monks who are responsible in taking control of pagoda boys, said that the pagoda has around one hundred rooms varying from small to large rooms for students to stay, and the number of students in each room depends on the room’s size which normally two people in a small room and four people in a large room.

By just selecting students based on face-to-face meeting and reading their background from official papers they hand in, not all students being selected are good, and as a result, some of them commit offense upon living in pagoda.

“Some students have committed offenses because people are not perfect all the time,” said Ra Son; adding that if it is just a small offense, he would advise them not to do that again. But if it is rather big, he would ask their parents to come and talk, and if it is a big offense like criminal behavior, he would send them to authority in charged.

In Samrong Andet pagoda, students have to wake up and join a prayer program with monks about half an hour every morning starting from 5:35. “We not only call them to pray, but the other four monks and me take turn to educate all of them each morning, especially on how to behave well in the society,” said Ra Son.

Pagoda Students do not have to pay for monthly rented fees and even can have free meals as well as getting education from monks. Even though pagodas seem to be a good place for poor students who apt for education in the city, they are not meant as permanent accommodations.

Oem Vanna who has been living in Mahamuntrei pagoda for almost four years said that he had planned to leave pagoda and rented a room when his younger brother finished high school and came to Phnom Penh.

“When I first arrived in the city, pagoda was the only place for me because I do not have any money to rent a room, but now I got a job and at least can afford it, so i think that I should give opportunity for some other students from provinces to pursue their education.”

29/06/2011
By: Dara Saoyuth and Tang Khyhay
 

Attending KhmerTalks event


Chak Sopheap

Chak Sopheap present her life experiences to the audience / by: Dara Saoyuth

Now I am at Zaman University joining KhmerTalks, a sharing conference aimed to unite emerging entrepreneurs and like-minded individuals to share and work collaboratively to shape dreams into action.

Under the theme “Sharing Success Together”, KhmerTalks has brought 10 speakers and two performing artists to share their achievements, experiences, and to light up the entire conference hall with 250 attendees from various backgrounds.

KhmerTalks is an event follow the same styles as TEDxPhnomPenh, which was hosted in Phnom Penh in January this year.

The event is organized by the Khmer Young Entrepreneurs (KYE), a growing nationwide group of young emerging Cambodian social and business leaders who believe in personal empowerment, sharing, and working cooperatively.

All in all, I would say that both events are great and significant in term of opportunities that Cambodian successful can get to share with local and international audiences.

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04/06/2011
By: Dara Saoyuth
 Related articles

Constructive Cambodia: Getting Passport in Cambodia


A few weeks ago, our constructive Cambodian wrote about the importance of travel for a person understanding of the world and themselves. In this week’s column Dara Saoyuth raises his concerns about the costliness of obtaining a passport in Cambodia and the opportunities and experiences that are being prevented by it

Non-citizen, diplomatic, travel document, and other types of passport

Non-citizen, diplomatic, travel document, and other types of passport / Image via Wikipedia

It is not just a small book with some letters, stamps, and signatures in it, a passport is the official document that identifies you as a citizen of a particular country and, more importantly, allows you to enjoy the benefits and excitements of international travel. In sort, you can’t leave your country without it.

People don’t just need it to travel, every day people must leave their countries to work abroad, pursue their studies, join meetings, conduct business, seek medical treatment and so on.

There are three types of passports: standard, official, and diplomatic. Official passports are reserved for government employees and diplomatic passport is for those people working in diplomatic capacity for a country. So most people will be seeking a standard passport.

In order to travel, most places require that you have 6 months validity remaining on your passport. In Cambodia a passport is issued with three years of validity and the option of extending twice for two years each time, so seven years in all.

Despite the importance of travel for so many people within a modern country, very few Cambodians have ever acquired a passport. It is simply too expensive, and most people don’t even consider it. I must admit that even as a student in Phnom Penh from a more-or-less middle class family, I never considered getting a passport tin my hand until I received a scholarship earlier this year to study abroad in Malaysia. I didn’t even consider at first that I would need a passport to leave the country.

However, with the experience of procuring a passport now under my belt, I can say with certainty that obtaining a passport as a Cambodian citizen in a prohibitively expensive, time consuming and laborious process.

The first step is a trip to passport department to fill out the passport application form and give them a number of important documents that prove your Cambodian nationality, including your family record book, your birth certificate, and your identity card. When I got to the passport office, which was about the same size as a normal house, I was shocked to see about 100 people packed inside.

When I went to the ministry we site to get details on how to navigate the passport process, I found nothing, so I went to a travel agent who proved a much more valuable resource. Eventually I got in touch with an official from the passport agency, who was also helpful.

One thing I learned through these two conversations was that the price of a passport and the waiting time seems to vary depending on who you are and who you ask.

The person from travel agency told me that there are three types of passport pricing: if you pay $136, you have to wait around 50 to 60 days to get your passport, pay $180 and you can get it within three weeks. If you are really in a rush to get going, you can pay $219 to get it within a week.

However, the person from the passport department told me that it would cost $135 if I waited for 60 days, $220 within a week. Not a huge difference, admittedly, but enough to show a lack of standardisation (also, you would think the slight price hike would be at the travel agency, not the government office).

Considering the financial state of your average Cambodian, more than $100 is enough to keep people from considering a passport, and more than $200 is out of reach of just about anybody who is wealthy.

If we look at our neighbouring countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos, we can see the price is dramatically different. According to a Cambodia Country Study published in 2009 by the Cambodia Development Resource Institute (CDRI), the passport fee is only $12 in Vietnam, $30 in Thailand and $35 in Laos.

Every year there are a lot of people who go outside the country to work as migrant workers to get money to support their families in Cambodia, and it was recognised by civil service organisation, and eventually the government that the high price of passports was preventing these workers, often some of the poorest people in Cambodia, to illegally exit the country, leaving themselves vulnerable to abuse and legal problems.

According to the previously mentioned report by CDRI, the Kingdom’s Prime Minister ordered the Ministry of Interior to make passports free, or as cheap as possible, for migrant workers. The cost dropped to around $45 for migrants who are patient enough to go through the formal process.

The report recommended that “the total fee should be $50 for migrant workers and other citizens ($40 official fee and $10 unofficial fee, assuming that it is impractical to eliminate unofficial fees)”.

One more point I’d like to point out is that the passport process in Cambodia is painfully slow, even compared to other countries. In Cambodia, the best you can hope for, without paying an arm and a leg, is three weeks to get your passport made, while in Thailand and Vietnam it is issued in three to five working days.

Arrived at the place, I was surprised to see more than a hundred of people packed together into a building which is the same size as a normal house. My decision to hire the services of travel agent proved fruitful as I was ushered through the crown and emerged having submitted my application within 15 minutes.

So, until the passport office gets its act together, go through a travel agent. Otherwise, you may be waiting a while.

By: Dara Saoyuth
This article was publish on LIFT, Issue 70 published on May 11, 2011

Flood on Mao Tse Toung Blvd.


24/04/2011
By: Dara Saoyuth
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