HUY Meas was a famous radio host and Lakhorn Niyeay (Modern Spoken Theatre) narrator and singer in Cambodia. She was born on January 06, 1946 in Svay Por Commune, Sangker District (Battambang Town now), Battambang Province. She was a youngest child among three siblings; HUY Siyoeurn (1st brother) and HUY Saiyo (2nd brother) who is now a teacher at Kork Banteay Primary School in Kork Banteay Commune, Rolea Ba’ear District, Kompong Chhnang. Her father, HUY Yoth, was an officer at Battambang Railway Station and her mother, BUTH Chin, was a housewife. Since she was a child, HUY Meas would love to assist her grandmother to pagoda for traditional ceremony. She usually contributed much effort to help older in that occasion such as smotr (in Khmer: ស្មូត), Dharma memorizing (សូត្រធម៌), and storytelling for illiterate old people with her tiny sweet voice. As ancestor told, HUY Meas was believed to have golden voice since her simple speaking and singing different during the public, so she was titled “Reach Thida Vohar Meas - រាជធីតាវោហារមាស”.
In early 1950s, HUY Meas attended Sor Heur Primary School (Sor Heur Secondary School now). Some radio researchers released the information that at home she just studied hard without ever singing for her family, but during traditional ceremony at school or pagoda she entertained the public with smotr, poem-telling, and storytelling about Khmer Tales and Srey He To Paktes. In the end 1960, she attended the women high school, Net Yorng. There she met PEN Rorn in the same generation and IM Song Seum, her senior. Not only studying at school, she also took some extra classes at her professor’s house for French Language, Mathematics, Ethics, etc. According to KEO Chanbo whose father was HUY Meas’s professor, HUY Meas was smart, tidy, and hard-working to be the most beloved student of her father, Prof. BUN Thorng. HUY Meas, PEN Rorn, IM Song Seum, and other students were taught not only school courses, but also music and singing since Prof. BUN Thorng was also good at Mandolin, Chapey, and Drum playing, singing, and other kinds of music. In the end 1962, ROS Sereysothea attended Net Yorng High School and studied with HUY Meas, PEN Rorn, IM Song Seum and other students during the extra hours. They became the beloved student group of Prof. BUN Thorng.
Being popular among various ceremonies with Smotr, speech and Dharma memorizing, in early 1965 HUY Meas was called to assist her professor who was the committee of the big three-day provincial ceremony, Sakmach Cheat. She showed her best ability in Smotr, singing, poem-telling, Dharma memorizing, and storytelling; all audiences surprised and admired her very much for both her voice and talent being well-known throughout Battambang. Besides, her professor also advised to register the singing contest in Sakmach Cheat. Being smart for entertaining people during that occasion, she narrated immediate speech plus lonely solo singing and then started singing “Reatrey Soma – Moon Night” of MAO Sareth, the original singer. Receiving the 1st rank for women singer, her parents, professor, and other classmates were so happy and admired for her best effort.
Unfortunately, HUY Meas failed the first Diploma National Examination in mid 1965 and disappointed to take the second Diploma National Examination, she gave up her study and hid in the house not to meet anyone. Later, IM Song Seum went to meet and encouraged HUY Meas to think on the positive side of life. Then he introduced her to the Krosuong Khosana Kar in Battambang and sang for provincial singing group; IM Song Seum, PEN Rorn, and HUY Meas started singing together at Steung Khiev Bar (Sangker River Garden now) and later ROS Sereysothea attended the singing group at this bar. For just a short period of time, HUY Meas was so famous within Battambang and moved to Phnom Penh with PEN Rorn and IM Song Seum in the end 1965. They sang for Krosuong Khosana Kar in Phnom Penh as well as other restaurants and bars. They lived near each other in Tuol Kork area. Then HUY Meas was introduced to work at the national radio as a host in many programs such as culture, modern song, Lakhorn Niyeay, song narration, etc. Her co-workers for every weekend Lakhorn Niyeay were YUOK Kem, KHUN Pol, MEAS Kok, etc. As an example of her participation in the Lakhorn Niyeay (Modern Spoken Theatre) is known as she got a role of Neary Phal in Kompong Thom Chumrom Chit novel which her spoken voice was very soft and sweet to listen. HUY Meas was also introduced to a famous lyricist and musician, MA Laopi, and sang many songs written by him alone or with IM Song Seum since she was cautious of danger to contact other men who usually followed her and asked for love. According to KEO Chanbo, her father always bought all released songs of HUY Meas after she came to Phnom Penh; sometimes he and Chanbo wrote songs sending to Phnom Penh for HUY Meas to sing with some edition from famous lyricists. HUY Meas also sang the song for showing the development of Cambodia in Sangkum Reastr Niyum such as “Reatrey Phnom Penh” (Night in Phnom Penh), etc.
Just few months later, OUM Sophanoureak (called Yael), the best drum player at national radio, asked her for marriage and went to request her parents traditionally in Battambang. They got married legally with the satisfaction for both side old people. Their three-year marriage gave birth to a daughter OUM Somavattey (born in 1966 and now living in Switzerland) who became a famous singer in 1990s. However, HUY Meas’s life became harder and harder to survive since her husband being usually drunk and her mother-in-law being greedy to ask her to buy a car for Sophanoureak according to KEO Chanbo. When HUY Meas visited her professor in Battambang; she was so upset for her marriage. Her mother-in-law as well as relative-in-law usually spoke something to judge her as a dishonest wife secretly saving her earning for her own family without letting her husband know, but the truth was HUY Meas being so honest to support her family-in-law as well as her own. Being ignored for the current issue with her mother-in-law from her husband and his failure career of drinking alcohol, HUY Meas could not bear any more and one night the family conflict occurred. Her husband ordered her to say sorry to mother-in-law, but HUY Meas could not take that pressure for she was right; her husband wanted to commit domestic violence on her. HUY Meas was shocked and escaped in the night to stay with someone she knew because she already heard the worst experience of ROS Sereysothea with SOS Math. In the morning, she returned home and was told by her husband to put down her body to the floor to say sorry to mother-in-law. Who could do that when they were not wrong? HUY Meas did not do it and was forced to leave the house without letting her to see daughter once again. In fact, Sophanoureak expected HUY Meas to return because her daughter was with him, but he was wrong since a strong woman would never return to the cruel family like that. Later, Sophanoureak wrote the songs such as Samleng Tro Khmer (OUM Sophanoureak), Baksey Kangork Meas (MEAS Hokseng), Kakvey Chanh Snae and Chheam Anatha (CHEA Savoeurn) to blame HUY Meas on the issue. In return, she wrote and sang the songs like Pka Sla Rus Roy, Chet Khos Pi Mun, etc. Pka Sla Rus Roy also was used by HUY Meas as a story for Lakhorn Niyeay on national radio. Until each party got a new couple, the anger had been eliminated. Sharing her heart with her professor’s family, HUY Meas used to say that in her life time being away from her daughter and no chance to take care of her was her mistake and please all the magic things in the world taking good care of her daughter.
In 1969, HUY Meas was titled “Meas Metrey” at national radio during ROS Sereysothea got title “Preah Reach Theany Samleng Meas” from King NORODOM Shihanouk. Later in the same year, HUY Meas got married with VANLY Kesaro, a high-class police officer. They lived together happy ever after and gave birth to two sons; VANLY Daly and VANLY Dodo (both living in the United States now). HUY Meas was more and more successful with her career in singing and radio hosting. Singing with IN Yeng, SIN Sisamut, SOS Mat, YANG Chheang (called Samneang Rithy), etc in Lon Nol Regime, she was also asked to sing the patriotic songs like Sronoss Dey Khmer, Lea Pov Tov Bom Reu Cheat, Lea Srey Tov Chbaing, 3 Siblings, Kong Commando, Chun Cheat Khmer, Lea Mae Tov Chbaing, Joun Por Tam Kyol and so on .
In Pol Pot Regime, she was killed because she was the patriotic singers in Lon Nol Regime, so she was targeted to death based on the principle of Khmer Rouge officials. HUY Meas was forced to leave Phnom Penh on April 17, 1975 as other residents in Phnom Penh. VANLY Kesaro was called to welcome King NORODOM Shihanouk on that day that meant he was killed by Khmer Rouge. HUY Meas with her two sons rode the train to Moung Russey District, Battambang Province. She hid her background and lived as simple 17 Mesa people. However, during the second Khmer Rouge success anniversary on April 17, 1977, her background was known to the Khmer Rouge officials; she was forced to sing the songs during day time as a chance to sing in the last time in her life. At night, Khmer Rouge captured her quietly, took her outside, and killed her. She is thought to be tortured before her death. Luckily, her two sons were not killed and fled to the United States after this regime. According to historical documents on Pol Pot Regime, the patriotic singer as HUY Meas would be tortured in the image as cutting blood line on the leg, cutting the tongue, etc. In short, there is only the sadness for the death of HUY Meas and other Cambodian residents who faced the bad luck to live in Pol Pot Regime from early 1975 to early 1979. “Experience of great artists in the past is the lesson for next generation to focus and improve!”
(Source: Wikipedia Khmer Version on HUY Meas and Other Sources)
By: POK Panhavuth