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Khmer literature in crisis! Hun Sen recommends that Chuon Nath's system of writings be followed

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Prime Minister Hun Sen strongly urged that all government institutions, the media as well as the Cambodia public adopt a literary and writing system developed by Cambodia's foremost literature expert, the late Patriarch Chuon Nath (pictured), who was the first to compile a comprehensive Khmer dictionary, reports Koh Santepheap.

Speaking at a meeting at the Education Ministry on 19th March, Mr. Hun Sen directed the Education Department to thoroughly check all that education texts, government texts, street and building signs as well as the media use the system of writing developed by Patriarch Chuon Nath.

The Cambodian system of writing was in crisis in the 1960s when there was a disagreement and rivalry between the camp led by the Patriarch Chuon Nath and another camp led by Prof. Keng Vansak, another Khmer literature expert. The rivalry led to Prof. Keng Vannsak being jailed for openly opposing Chuon Nath sysstem of writing which was officially adopted and used by the government. Chuon Nath adopted an orthodox system of writing while Prof. Keng Vannsak advocated for a simplified form of writing, which the old generation found it to be more confusing. Keng Vannsak's system was used after the coup that toppled Sihanouk in 1970.

Mr. Hun Sen claimed that after 1979, there were debates whether to adopt the Chuon Nath or Keng Vannsak system. He said he had strongly opposed Keng Vannsak's system and in favour in the use of Chuon Nath's system in every meeting about the issue. He said in 1985, when he became Cambodia's prime minister he refused to sign all documents that use Prof. Keng Vannsak's system of writing.

However, most of publications and young students these days had been using Prof. Keng's Vannasak's sytem. Newspapers and magazines are seen using Prof. Keng Vannsak's system of writing and students are taught this system at school.

Mr. Hun Sen said from now on, all government texts and school texts will need to use Chuon Nath's writing system and his 1968 dictionary.

By Khmerization
Source: Koh Santepheap



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