Thursday, 8 January 2009

Elephants gets green light from ministers

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Khouth Sophakchakrya
Wednesday, 07 January 2009

THE Council of Ministers has thrown its support behind the rock opera Where Elephants Weep after Buddhist clergy asked the government to ban the show from being televised nationally due to its allegedly dishonorable presentation of monks.

"Where Elephants Weep is a modern Khmer rock opera which generated great interest from the international community, so we continue to support and encourage its performance because it promotes our culture in the world," said spokesman and secretary of state for the Council of Ministers Phay Siphan on Tuesday after a meeting intended to settle the dispute.

"Our government knows very well that Buddhism is our state religion, and it protects it and promotes it," he said. "But we cannot ban [the show's] global performance.

"Elephants is a post-Khmer Rouge take on the Cambodian classic Tom Tiev, telling the story of a Cambodian-American man who becomes a monk in order to find his Cambodian roots with a mix of rock, pop and traditional Khmer tunes.

Cambodia's Supreme Sangha, the council of Buddhist monks, had complained in a December 30 letter to the Ministry of Cults and Religion that the show dishonours the Buddhist religion and asked that it be banned from national television and the cast apologise.

"We are working on this situation with our marketing managers and leaders within the ministries," writer Catherine Filloux and composer Him Sophy told the Post by email. "We are in the planning stages for the new international productions of Where Elephants Weep and excited about moving our new work forward."

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