Every year, the Indigenous Khmer-Krom Peoples in Mekong Delta organize the Ork Ombok Festival to worship the moon on the 15th of the 10th lunar month. It is the time that the Khmer-Krom starts harvesting their rice. During this time, the Khmer-Krom people also celebrate the Pronang Touk Ngo (Boat Racing) Festival, to commemorate their ancestor’s navy troops that won the battles against their enemy to protect their homeland.
In recent years, the Vietnamese government has exploited the Boat Racing Festival to attract tourists. The Vietnamese government makes lots of profits from providing the tourist services and advertisement. The Khmer-Krom paddlers don’t gain a penny from those profits, except the winning teams may get some awards.
From November 8-11, 2011, Vietnam organized the 2nd Rice Festival in Khleang (Soc Trang) province at the same time with the Khmer-Krom Boat Racing Festival and pretends to calling it as a coincident. The Khmer-Krom people are not happy because the Boat Racing Festival is their Cultural Festival participating and organizing by their own Khmer-Krom. Unfortunately, it is now completely under controlled, organized, and marginalized by the Vietnamese government to serve its propaganda policies and benefits.
Most of the Khmer-Krom people are farmers. They help producing rice to make Vietnam becoming the 2nd country of the world in exporting rice. Unfortunately, the world does not know that some of the Khmer-Krom farmers do not have rice to eat. They are the poorest of the poor people in Mekong Delta.
In Vietnam, the Vietnamese government’s rice export companies control the rice price. They lower the rice price in the harvest season. The Khmer-Krom farmers have no choice to sell their rice below the market price in order to have money to pay for their debt that they borrow money to buy fertilizers and for other expenses. After selling all their rice, some Khmer-Krom farmers do not have enough money to pay for their debt and end up selling their farmlands to the Vietnamese. As landless farmers, they live in poverty.
The tourists attended the Vietnam 2nd Rice Festival do not know that the Rice that Vietnam exports are produced by the Khmer-Krom’s tears and sweats. Many rosy pictures have been painted over the suffering of the Khmer-Krom, but the world has been misled and the Khmer-Krom people are suffering terribly as today.