Cambodian Journalism Review

Let’s Text in Khmer to Express Love, Grief and Solidarity
February 11, 2010, 9:27 am
Filed under: Free Speech


 Let’s Text in Khmer to Express Love, Grief and Solidarity

by Moeun Chhean Nariddh

The Cambodia Daily, January 19, 2010



n the wake of a recent devastating earthquake in Haiti, relief agencies have used all means to help the victims. One of the agencies, the Red Cross, has used text messages through mobile phones to raise up to $190,000 worth of donations for its relief efforts.

 Now, the Cambodian people can also use text messages to help themselves and others. It’s good that a new mobile phone company has introduced a new technology and mobile phones that people can text each other in Khmer scripts.

Of course, there are a lot of benefits people can get from writing and receiving text messages.

 First, many people in the rural areas have little schooling and they can barely read or write. Over the years, they will lose this little ability to write in Khmer if they don’t use it. By writing text messages in Khmer, they can maintain their Khmer writing skills and improve their overall literacy.

 Second, people in remote areas have no access to newspapers, radio or television. By working with mobile phone companies that have wider coverage, we can send daily news briefings in Khmer through text messages to help people get informed of what happens in other parts of the country and around the world.

 Meanwhile, various government institutions and civil society organizations can also text short messages in Khmer to inform and educate people about a new law, healthcare, environment, new agricultural techniques, or other social issues.

 Third, for poor people in the countryside who cannot afford expensive phone calls, they can send Khmer text messages to communicate with their friends and relatives elsewhere. People in the cities or towns who are better off can buy these mobile phones that can send text messages in Khmer for their friends and relatives in the provinces. For only $15 a phone, it can be a nice gift.

 But, they should also teach them how to use it. I’ve spent only about 10 minutes to teach a teenage boy at a gym where I go to exercise about how to identify Khmer consonants and vowels embedded in different keys of my mobile phone. He found it very fascinating and eager to learn.

 Telephone companies that have technology and mobile phones with Khmer texting capacity can instruct their retail outlets to teach their clients how to write and send text messages in Khmer.

 Fourth, many people do not want to express their feelings orally. So, if they are shy or afraid they can send text messages to others in Khmer.  At the gym, the teenage boy managed to learn Khmer texting quickly and in10 minutes he could write “Kha’nhom sralanh neak” (I love you) in Khmer and send it off to his girlfriend in Kandal province. Others can also send Khmer text messages if they want to request anything from someone but don’t dare to say it.

 Last but not least, people can write text messages to air their grievances

 Many Cambodians around the country have suffered from different kinds of grief and miseries due to illnesses, poverty, or other injustices.

 By writing to friends and relatives about their problems through text messages in Khmer, they can feel relieved or get help from others.

 Therefore, people should write something and express yourselves at least through text messages for different benefits and to exercise your freedom of expression.

 If you don’t use it you lose it.

 Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States warned: “Freedom of speech is of no use to a man who has nothing to say. Freedom to worship is of no use to a man who has lost his God.”


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