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Khmer book review Sim Nak Bor Lan

Review by Say Tola / Khmer Times Share:

The book “Sim Nak Bor Lan” (Driver Sim) was republished by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport in 2014 as part of its efforts to preserve and protect Khmer culture and literature, with the aim of benefiting not only students but also the general readership.

The book depicts an earlier era in Cambodia’s modern history, in which constitutional rights and laws were being introduced, but institutions such as a free press had not developed to the point where people could understand these rights. As the book shows, this lack of awareness made it easy for bosses and capitalists to exploit workers, who often worked long hours for low pay.

The book’s central character is Sim, who works as a driver for a wealthy capitalist family in the capital. Although he doesn’t have many assets, he spends his time and money buying and reading books and newspapers, including books about monks and the constitution. Reading this material, he begins to understand his rights.

After reading about labour issues at home and abroad, he shares his knowledge with his coworkers, telling them about the situation in other countries and discussing socialism and imperialism.

Sim’s strong understanding of his rights protects him from being abused by his boss. Sim is a very punctual and diligent employee. When his boss tells him to pick him up at a specific time, he is always on time, though he refuses to work beyond his allotted hours.

When his boss confronts him over this, he is able to justify his actions based on his newly acquired knowledge. Though he is nearly fired by his boss, he stands by his principles.

Sim frequently gathers with friends and villagers to share knowledge. At first, the villagers have trouble understanding all that he tells them, but later they make an effort to learn to read, studying after coming home from work.

Learning from events in other countries where workers came together to protect their rights and end exploitation, Sim discusses the way labourers in Western countries formed unions.

Through Sim’s actions, his boss begins to respect workers’ rights. Sim is then able to have time to spend with his family, while enjoying his time at work. He continues to educate workers about their rights and encourages them to learn to read.

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