Khmernews

Nothing Else But Hoes from China Imported to Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge Regime

Posted by khmernews on June 7, 2007

Kompong Thom:  Some tools produced during the Khmer Rouge regime have been seen very few nowadays since they are “too ancient” [for people to use]. However, their quality seems to be good. Besides dams, some pots and plates made from metal are left until the present.
Grandfather Choun, 80, who is living in Srayov village, Srayov commune, Stung Saen district said that he has a pot and a plate made from metal left from the Khmer Rouge regime.

He said that during the Khmer Rouge regime he was a blacksmith who made metal pots and plates.  He has kept them until the present since they are tough and sturdy. He said that he is living in the same place as he was during the Khmer Rouge regime. His tasks were to collect metal left from American bombs in the fields and forests and then made plates and pots out of it. He said that his team was assigned to collect metal and to go into the forests to make charcoal for melting metal.

He continued to say that after collecting metal and charcoal, the melting process begun by using air pump to help melt the metal. When it was melted, it was poured into pot or plate moulds. He said that in a day his team could produce 3 to 5 pots or 8 to 10 plates only. Those plates were then sent to the “collectives” in which people eat together.  His team also produced metal spoons and ladles for the collectives.

During the Khmer Rouge regime, there were no other tools imported besides hoes from China. Other than this, there were some tools left from the previous regime. When those tools were broken, they repaired them. They changed how those tools work. For example, they turned boat machines from using diesel to using oil made from fish. Shoes were made from tyres and buttons from plastic barrels. Combs were made from piece of metal sawn into comb-shapes. In some collectives, there were some radios, but they had no batteries. When they wanted to listen to the radios, they needed to take turn to spin the dynamos to generate electricity. The “Angkar” banned people not to use the tools left from the previous regime and said that those tools were dirt of the feudalism.

Thanks to the shortage of using tools, the people started to invent things in a miserable way. Generally, during the Khmer Rouge regime the people were living like “animals” which needed nothing but hoes and baskets.

(Informal Translation)
-Extracted from Rasmei Kampuchea. Vol.15, #4251. Sunday-Monday, April 1st-2nd, 2007.

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