April 12, 2011

Cambodian vendors enraged after official bans traditional games


Phnom Penh - More than 500 vendors said they would complain to Prime Minister Hun Sen after an official banned them from playing traditional games during New Year's celebrations, local media reported Tuesday.

Cambodia's New Year festivities begin Thursday, and markets, schools and businesses close as hundreds of thousands of people head to the provinces to visit family.

Market owner Roath Sopheap told the Phnom Penh Post newspaper that the commune chief had sent a 'ridiculous' letter banning the games over the holiday period.

Roath Sopheap said she received the letter after informing officials that people would use her market to play the games.

The letter warned that officials would not be held responsible for the consequences if the banning order was ignored.

Among the games is Chol Chhoung, in which two groups throw a ball between them. The first group to drop the ball has to sing or dance. Another is Bos Angkunh, a game similar to marbles but played with inedible seeds.

One vendor at Prek Pnov market in the capital said the games were legal and part of the tradition of celebrating the New Year.

'We will complain to the court and Prime Minister Hun Sen to fire those officials if they don't allow us to play,' said gold seller Sok Sareth, speaking on behalf of the market's 500-plus vendors.

A deputy governor said later that officials would only ban illegal games, which are typically defined as any pastime involving gambling.

The commune chief who wrote the letter was not available for comment.

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