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PM Hun Sen Says No to Beauty Pageant

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday opposes Khmer women's participation in foreign beauty pageant, saying as long as the poverty level does not fall below 15%, and people's income does not reach $1,500 per month, he will not allow it.

Speaking at an informal meeting with people in Svay Rieng province, Hun Sen says that what he wants is for the people to have enough to eat, appropriate clothes to wear, adequate houses and forms of transportation, schools for children, and hospitals for sick people.

Hun Sen says that he does not see why Cambodia has to flaunt her women's beauty. He says that Cambodia can flaunt her famous Angkor Wat temple instead.

Cambodia held beauty pageant contests in 1993 and 1995, and none after that.

Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts' State Secretary, Sisowath Kolachat supports Mr. Hun Sen's decision, saying when Cambodian young people are highly educated, and the nation's economy makes progress, then Cambodia will send her women to compete abroad.

Opposition party's leader Sam Rainsy says he is not surprised by Mr. Hun Sen's decision, and seems to support it, saying there are other heritages that can lift Cambodia's name other than a beauty pageant.

Director of Gender and Development for Cambodia, Ms. Ros Sopheap opposes Mr. Hun Sen's allegations. She says that Cambodian women should be allowed to participate in international beauty pageant to show their intellect and beauty.

Cambodia has never participated in any international beauty contest.