From December 2-4, 2011, Vietnam organized the Fifth Festival Culture, Sport and Tourist of the Khmer in South Vietnam to lure the tourists. This festival is organized every three years. The fifth festival is organized in Krabao (Tinh Bien) district, Mouth Chrouk (An Giang) province.
In three days festival, it covered many activities, such as: Boat Racing, Ox racing, exhibition, cultural shows, Khmer music shows, etc. There were twelve Khmer-Krom delegations from difference provinces attending this event. This year, there was a Khmer-Krom delegation from Toul Ta Mouk (Binh Phuoc) province which is not from the Mekong Delta region. There are very few Khmer-Krom still living in Toul Ta Mouk province because it locates near the border of Kampuchea-Krom and the Champa Kingdom (currently a central part of Vietnam).
As a normal tourist attending this festival, they will think that it is very nice of the Vietnamese government organizing this festival to help the Khmer-Krom having opportunity to show off their culture, sport, and especially their Khmer identity.
The Voice of Kampuchea-Krom Radio had interviewed some Khmer-Krom who attended this festival. They were happy to see the festival like this, but they pointed out that this festival is just used to polish the regime’s propaganda to the world:
• This is a Khmer festival, but most of the organizers, MCs, even some performers are Vietnamese.
• The Banners are in Vietnamese. Some banners have the Khmer language to indicate what province the Khmer-Krom delegation is from, but the names of the provinces pronounce as Vietnamese. For example, instead of calling the Preah Trapeang in Khmer language, they wrote in Khmer as Tra Vinh. Same as other provinces.
• It is a festival for Khmer-Krom to enjoy, but Vietnamese organizers sell tickets for Ox racing. The Khmer-Krom people are poor, so most of them don’t have money to buy the ticket to enjoy their traditional Ox racing sport. Moreover, more than half of the ox racing teams is Vietnamese, not the Khmer-Krom teams.
• Vietnamese government sent many polices to patrol for the safety, but when the Khmer-Krom women’s necklaces were robbed, none of the thief were caught and let the Khmer-Krom women suffered.
If Vietnamese government has a good heart to help Khmer-Krom to preserve their culture and traditional sports, just simply let the Khmer-Krom freely organize their own festivals. Please do not interfere, Vietnamize, and use the Khmer-Krom as puppet performers to entertain the tourists for the Vietnamese government’s benefits.