Last night I was watching Newsline on the Australia Network and a piece came on about Alice Pung. Alice Pung is a writer, lawyer and teacher and her last book, Her Father’s Daughter, tells the story of her father, a survivor of Cambodia’s Killing Fields and her cultural awakening. Pung was born and raised in Australia, suffering from some of the problems immigrant families suffer from but after her visit to Cambodia, came to the awakening that whilst she had a Cambodian background, at heart she was an Aussie.
I’ve been to Phnom Penh and I defy anyone to visit the Killing Fields or the Chao Ponhea Yat High School (later the security prison S21) and not be moved by the tragedy of the time of the Khmer Rouge. I recall a business associate of mine in Cambodia who once said to me that he was lucky in that when the Khmer Rouge came to take his father away he was only 5 and so had not really got to know his father all that well so did not miss him as much as those who were older when their father’s were taken. My friend’s father’s crime? He taught IT at the university.
It was, however, uplifting hearing Pung’s story, so much so that her book will be the next on my reading list.
You can see the interview here in the video archives, look for the 17 October 2011 archive.