Friday, October 07, 2005

The KR, Like the KR Cafe, Could Not Adjust to the Market

The Cambodia Daily
Thursday,October 6, 2005
Sorya Sim
Phnom Penh

I learned of a Khmer Rouge-style cafe ("New Cafe Promises 'Khmer Rouge Experience,'" Sept 30, page 1) then in the morning I dropped by only to see it being postponed.

The guard did not seem to expect that people like me, my wife and my 11 month-old son, would want to come in. True, I endured the Khmer Rouge and I had sensed what to expect, but I just wanted to check-I asked to explore things.

The guard said "no,no, there's only rice gruel." Other things to drink like Coke or soda? No. Then we moved on the first floor. The manager, Hakpry Agnchealy, gracefully received me while her brother, the owner, was being interviewed. We were allowed to see inside.

The manager told me that the cafe would not resume operations until further notice, adding that within two weeks of the cafe opening, she had only had two customers.

On the way back I was thinking: Apart from the legality of running such a cafe, let the market adjust itself.

I personally see the cafe will hardly survive on two fronts. In terms of authenticity, I do not think anyone can reinvent the whole context of Khmer Rouge cuisine.

Take a few examples. How was the food cooked? In a big pot? How hungry and exhausted were the customers? As hungry and exhausted as the Khmer Rouge slaves? Did the customer come in all at the same time, as they did under the Khmer Rouge? Did you ever order from such a menu in the Khmer Rouge dining halls?

The Khmer Rouge wrongly forced many people to enjoy the same food no matter now smart or how hard they worked.

This went against the nature of human beings, the nature of the competitive market, the freedom of choice, life and happiness. That is why the Khmer Rouge collapsed.

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