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LOWELL, MASSACHUSETTS. October 23, 2016: For the 29 years that Pheng Ang has called Lowell home, he hasn’t seen the local Cambodian-American community, the second largest in the U.S., as politically fragmented as it is today.
With the U.S. presidential election just weeks away, however, the rift has nothing to do with Democrats or Republicans. It’s the roiling feud between political camps nearly 13,000 kilometers away that’s taking a toll on locals.
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“Before, there were some factions,” Pheng, a 71-year-old father of five, told VOA Khmer. “But when the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) came to indoctrinate people here, there was a severe fracture in the community, which rarely had unity, even among [Buddhist] monks.”
Pheng, who escaped the war-torn Southeast Asian country in 1987, has always been aware of the long shadow its domestic politics cast over life in Massachusetts. But ever since a visit earlier this year by Hun Manet, son of long-time Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, divisions have only deepened.
It was on that one day in April that Manet, a senior military figure and heir-apparent to a polarizing regime in Phnom Penh, was greeted by angry protesters accusing him of violating human rights and repressing the political will of the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP).
Voting bloc disintegrated
In the 1980s, large numbers of Cambodian refugees began arriving in the northeastern state of Massachusetts — predominately in the city of Lowell — as war gripped the tiny kingdom, which was still shaking off atrocities of the genocidal Khmer Rouge.
Rithy Uong, the first Cambodian elected to Lowell’s nine-member city council, says the 30,000-strong Cambodian-American community was caring and unified when he arrived in the ’80s.
“In the past, we could talk to each other easily,” he told VOA Khmer. “But now there are the CPP, the CNRP, the existing Sam Rainsy Party and other smaller parties. We can still talk, of course, but it’s just hard because the other party said if they are associated with us, they would be in trouble.”
Imported political divisions have had consequences for municipal elections, he added, explaining that Lowell’s ethnic Cambodian voting bloc is so fragmented that its voice in city hall has been diluted. Currently, there are no Cambodian councilors. While Cambodian-American Veasna Nuon was elected to the city council in 2011, he held the position for only a single two-year term; he and three other Cambodian-American candidates were all unsuccessful in last year’s election.
Two other Cambodian-Americans, Kamara Kay and Dominik Hok Y Lay, ran unsuccessfully last year for seats on Lowell’s school committee.
“They don’t always vote as a bloc,” Lowell Mayor Edward Kennedy told VOA Khmer. “So maybe their voice at the polls is not as loud as it would be if they vote in unison.”
It wasn’t always this way.
The first generation of Cambodians who migrated to Lowell more than three decades ago focused on building better lives for themselves individually, so politics typically wasn’t high on the agenda.
But Cambodia’s domestic politics eventually followed them here, working its way into local religious institutions, triggering a political segregation of Buddhist temples, physical division of community centers, and the organization of local leadership roles according to homeland political allegiances.
Newly arriving Cambodian immigrants, residents say, continue to arrive with long-held political convictions intact. While some prominent Cambodian-Americans such as Sovann Ou, Phnom Penh’s honorary consul general in Lowell, declined to comment for this article, others openly speculated about how to heal the rift.
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“Most of the CPP members I know live here [and] also have families here, and they regard this city as their home, too,” said Tolayuth Ok, a representative of the ruling CPP’s youth movement in Lowell.
“There are no intentions to break the [Lowell] community,” he said of Hun Sen’s ruling party officials. “We all love our society and our nation, too.”
On the other side of the political divide, Sok Paul Pen, president of the U.S.-based CNRP youth movement, says it’s time for stakeholders in the Cambodian-American community, especially the non-political Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association (CMAA), to take a leading role in reuniting the “fractured” diaspora.
“I would like to appeal to the CMAA that they have to think of [the issue] and step into the political sphere to solve this,” he said.
That, however, seems unlikely to happen. CMAA Executive Director Sovanna Pouv says his association’s mission was focused on Cambodians in Lowell, not politics in Cambodia or its local manifestation.
“If we focus a lot on what is happening in [Cambodia], which we have high respect for, and we respect everyone that is connected to the country, it pulls away from our true work here” in the U.S., he said.
Another community leader, Sidney Liang, compares Lowell’s politically charged environment to a passing storm.
Political division? Not so
“Outsiders may think that the people in Lowell must be divided when they saw a protest taking place here, but in fact that’s not true,” he said, echoing the opinion of Rady Mom, the Cambodian-born State Representative for the 18th Middlesex district in Massachusetts, who frequently downplays talk of a fragmented community.
“If we often mention the fracture or division, that’s not correct. We should get rid of that term,” said Rady, who is currently seeking a second term.
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“If you just look at our pagodas we built, those came from our unity,” he said, referring to the construction of two separate pagodas in Lowell. Their concurrent construction didn’t reflect a divided community, he said, but one that’s rapidly expanding.
Political parties and their respective support bases need to focus on mutually beneficial debates rather than destructive political diatribes, said Tararith Kho, a former Harvard fellow and current Khmer literature lecturer at Lowell Community College.
“I am aware of the division,” Tararith said. “But, I would just like to tell the Khmer community in this city that we should learn how to quarrel with each other in a constructive manner, and not in a way [that] furthers the fracture.” (VOA)
By Prerana Agarwal Saxena
In all the wedding excitement, it's easy to overlook the impact a wedding has on the environment. While everyone is making their big fat Indian wedding dreams come true, they are also adding their carbon footprint and undue energy consumption. Modern couples are now looking for ways to have a wedding with a sustainably conscious mindset. It's become about incorporating less waste, locally sourced and seasonal food, natural materials over the use of plastic. Mindful wedding planning and decor includes the use of recycled paper and goods along with eco-friendly venue needs. Check out this quick guide to achieve a sustainably conscious wedding without compromising on luxury:
Choose locally sourced material to uplift artisans
Sustainable can be luxurious too, incorporate some native flavour into the decor and theme. With the use of locally sourced materials and local artisans coming into play, the wedding instantly becomes sustainable. Include the work of local vendors ensure minimal packaging requirements, thus saving on unnecessary plastic and lamination. It also decreases the need for transporting elements from other cities and hence lowers the carbon footprint. For instance, at one of our weddings, we made use of sand art for a setup in Jodhpur. This helped promote local work while also being environmentally friendly with zero wastage of other materials. In another instance from Rajasthan, the traditional glass-blown technique was used to build decor items while giving a cultural touch to the destination wedding.
Sustainable can be luxurious too, incorporate some native flavour into the decor and theme. | Photo by Jason Coudriet on Unsplash
Say yes to recycling
One should be mindful and avoid the use of plastic and other non-recyclable materials in decor wherever possible. It can be a small step such as making a conscious switch from plastic water bottles to copper jugs or glass bottles. Also use artificial floral decor thus minimising the wastage produced from real flowers. This recyclable decor is then donated to various NGOs, further ensuring sustainable use of resources. Such steps, however small they might be, keep the environment free from the release of any additional carbon footprint.
One should be mindful and avoid the use of plastic and other non-recyclable materials in decor wherever possible. | Photo by Ravin Rau on Unsplash
Go for zero-waste wedding decor
Make use of fabric as it enhances the elegance of the wedding while being sustainable. Include vibrant colours apt to the theme of the wedding and bring in bright sprightliness with breathable fabrics. Ensure to include LED lights for lighting. They can be incorporated as string lights or be used on passageways with innovative decor items. They also help conserve energy and bring in soulful energy for nighttime decor. Choose virtual invitations, keeping up with the digital times. Make a conscious choice of plated dinner menus rather than a buffet as they allow less wastage of food and ensure enough food for guests in attendance.
LEDs can be incorporated as string lights or be used on passageways with innovative decor items. | Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Include Sustainable Gifting
Gift sustainable wedding favours -- gifts that grow. Offering a plant or a succulent, is a great idea. One can also gift recycled organic fabrics and cutlery or zero-waste kitchen and bathroom essentials to use in their homes as some distinct gifting options.
Gift sustainable wedding favours -- gifts that grow. | Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash
Acting in the best interest of the environment and the society, Theme Weavers Designs has started a social cause, Weaving Hope, where a part of their earnings along with food and decor are donated to social communities. Royal Rendezvous, is an event started by us to put India on the Global Map, inviting international wedding planners to India to experience the rich culture and heritage, also employing and displaying the work of local artisans to this international audience.
By applying the values of sustainability, you can reduce the energy consumed and the resources used as much as possible. Go ahead and have a luxurious zero-waste wedding and navigate into the world of green living! (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Luxurious , Gift, sustainable, wedding favours, gifts that grow. Gifting, recycling, locally sourced, material. zero-waste
The Tamil Nadu health department has administered 16,43,879 lakh doses of vaccine in the second mega vaccination camp organised by it. The state public health department in a statement on Sunday said that this has taken the total vaccination to one crore since the beginning of September till date. The vaccination was administered from 7 a.m. till 7 p.m. and the compiled data was made available late at night.
The health department officials also said that as the state has almost exhausted its quota of vaccines, there would not be any vaccines on Monday. Regular vaccination will resume after the vaccine supplies arrive from New Delhi, officials said. The state health department had expected to vaccinate 15 lakh people on Sunday in 18,824 centres spread across primary health centres, anganwadis, noon meal centres, government hospitals, schools and some auditoriums.
The health department officials also said that as the state has almost exhausted its quota of vaccines, there would not be any vaccines on Monday. | Photo by Mat Napo on Unsplash
Of the 16,43,879 people who were inoculated, a total of 10,85,097 received their first dose and 5,58,782 their second dose of vaccine, the statement said, A total of 9,66,568 people in the age group of 18-44 were vaccinated on Sunday and vaccines were administered on 5,02,578 people aged between 45- 59 in the mega vaccine camps.
State health minister Ma Subramanian, who inaugurated the vaccination at Pollachi, also visited the centres in six districts -- Coimbatore, Erode, Namakkal, Tiruppur, Dharmapuri and Salem. The state government, according to the health minister, is to receive the next allotment of vaccines on September 21. Minister while speaking to IANS said, "We will be receiving the next allotment of vaccines on September 21 itself and we will resume vaccinations immediately. The state has already touched one crore vaccine-mark in the month of September till date." (IANS/MBI)
Keywords: COVID, vaccine, vaccination camp, Tamil Nadu, India, vaccinated, mega camp
Festivals are just around the corner and while you brainstorm about OOTDs (outfit of the day), don't forget the right makeup. Hanisha Kapoor, COO, ArchiesBeauty.com shares makeup trends experimented by these Bollywood divas throughout 2021 for inspiration. While some stuck to the classics, others mixed it up... take a look:
The Classic Red Lip
We don't see a future where classic red lips go out of fashion. The right way to achieve this celebrity look is to focus on accentuating your lips and keeping the rest of the face minimal. Give your lips a good scrub to plump them, moisturize and follow it up with a red lip liner to define the shape of your lips. Now go on with the perfect shade of red and finish your look with a slick of eyeliner, minimal concealer, and foundation.
We don't see a future where classic red lips go out of fashion. | Photo by Ina Garbé on Unsplash
No Makeup Look
Deepika Padukon is the perfect example of a no-makeup look. This natural beauty does a wonderful job of achieving the minimal soft look by softly cover any dark spots or blemishes and highlighting features she's most proud of. To achieve this start with concealer and use small dots to brighten your darker areas like under eye, corner of the nose or upper lip, and any visible spots, and set it up with loose powder. Apply a soft pink lipstick, light blush, and mascara.
Deepika Padukon is the perfect example of a no-makeup look | Wikimedia Commons
This look shouts pink. When it comes to rosy looks, Janhavi Kapoor does a phenomenal job. Everyone should try a rosy look once in a while. As we are focusing on only one shade, this look is pretty easy to achieve. Bring out your favourite pink lipstick, favourite pink blush, and a matching shade of eye shadow. Start with the base - concealer, and foundation and set it up with loose powder. Follow it up with eyeshadow, lipstick, and blush. Remember to draw a line by not using any pink mascara, eyeliner, or a bold shade of lipstick, as this is meant to be soft on the eyes.
When it comes to rosy looks, Janhavi Kapoor does a phenomenal job. | Wikimedia Commons
Glass Skin Makeup
The glass skin makeup is inspired by Korean skincare. This look is slightly complex with an equal focus on skin before makeup, so slather on those moisturizing serums and creams to prep your skin first. Start with a highlighting primer, keep your foundation and concealer minimal to avoid looking cakey. Follow it up with soft blush & nude lips and lots and lots of highlighter. Use the highlighter on the main points of your face, like upper cheekbones, the centre of the forehead, the tip of the nose, cupid bone, and chin. If you are feeling a bit extra, don't hesitate to put some on your shoulders and collar bones. This celebrity makeup look makes your skin glow without the need for a spotlight.
The glass skin makeup is inspired by Korean skincare. | Photo by 邱 严 on Unsplash
Pop It Up
Put a zing to your party look with the pop of funky colour. This look is meant to get you in the mood of partying all night. This works with your eye makeup while keeping the rest of the face minimal. Start with the base - concealer, apply a bit extra on your eyelids to make the colour pop. Don't mind going the extra mile and colour blocking your eyes with complementary colours on eyelids and under the eye. Apply nude lipstick and a soft blush to balance your look.
This look is meant to get you in the mood of partying all night. | Pixabay
(Article originally published by N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Celebrity, makeup, Deepika, Jhanavi, Korean, Red Lipstick, Glass Makeup, Pop makeup