Thursday, February 16, 2012

PM urges youths to love all year round

Fleeting Valentine’s Day trysts in the confines of cheap guesthouses are not the Cambodian way, and young couples should love every day – provided they make a life-long commitment to their partners, Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday.


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Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post


Speaking during a National Road 6 ceremony, the premier joined the chorus of officials urging youths to avoid guesthouses on Valentine’s Day.

“It is not our culture,” he said. 

“In Cambodia, we don’t have only February 14 as a day for loving, we have 365 days.”

His plea came amid police suggestions they would deploy officers to guesthouses to prevent “anarchy”.

At Preap Sor guesthouse in Phnom Penh, Valentine’s Day arrived without the rush of check-ins some had expected and it was business as usual when the Post spoke to employee Hout Heng Nin.

“I think the couples will not come to stay in a guesthouse after  the news about police patrols,” he said.

Sim Piseth, police chief in Daun Penh’s Phsar Thmey II commune, said his officers would patrol guesthouses last night and had monitored outside schools for people selling roses in “banned” areas.

“We’re afraid people will buy roses for their partners and argue  at night,” he said.

Chhum Srey Nouch, 18, a student at a Phnom Penh high school, said Valentine’s Day had not been as big this year because of police warnings and teachers scheduling compulsory exams.

“I am also afraid police will arrest me when I go out with my school uniform,” Chhum Srey Nouch said.

Another grade 12 student, who did not want to be named, told the Post that Valentine’s Day had been harder for young lovers this year.

He doubted, however, that police and government warnings would have deterred youths from doing what they wanted.

“Students would not have gone to a guesthouse, because they would have been afraid of being arrested, but they would have gone elsewhere,” he said.

Meak Chhor Reaksmey, director of Santhor Mok high school in Phnom Penh, said truancy had been markedly lower than on previous Valentine’s Days because no roses had been allowed to be sold close to the school and teachers had enforced a compulsory exam.