Sihanoukville municipal authorities pulled down shop banners at 200 locations for having spelling errors, no thanks to Google Translate.
Lim Pheaktrey, a Preah Sihanouk municipal administration official in charge of public administration and environment, told The Post on Monday that the spelling errors were caused by literal translations to Khmer using Google Translate as shop owners made their banners independently.
“They do not know Khmer and they did not ask for legal permission. This has led to the spelling errors because if they come and ask for permission, they will be required to use the Khmer language and the spelling will also be checked.
“At the moment, there are a lot of banner printing shops in Sihanoukville where the staff do not know Khmer, so they use Google Translate,” Pheaktrey said.
‘Only one official in charge’
He said the authorities also have a problem because there is only one official in charge of checking banners in Sihanoukville.
“There are also loopholes in our inspection [process] because there is only one official who is in charge of checking the banners and he cannot carry out his function thoroughly. Therefore, people should inform the authorities wherever they spot such errors,” Pheaktrey said.
He said the authorities previously banned companies or places whose banners do not have the Cambodian language or have spelling errors. However, incorrect banners are on the rise.
“The Chinese also open banner shops and they do not know Khmer, so they use Google Translate. That leads to spelling errors."
“In the past, we pulled down illegal banners too. But in the last five weeks, we managed to pull down banners at 200 places as they wrongly made the banners which have spelling errors in Khmer or have no Khmer language on them,” he said.
Adhoc’s Preah Sihanouk provincial coordinator Cheap Sotheary said: “Many banners have problems, but we can see that the municipal and provincial halls are working together to ban and inform the people about such cases and advise the Chinese running businesses in Sihanoukville,” Sotheary said.
Affiliated Network for Social Accountability executive director San Chey said the same repeated mistakes in the banners were due to the inactivity of local authorities. They start enforcing the law only after public criticism.
“The banner mistakes in Sihanoukville town centre with names in Chinese are not administrative mistakes, but crimes. Shop owners must be punished because it is a crime,” he said.