from Tram Lyrattanak, Cambodia

The first newspaper in Cambodia was published in 1936 with the name of Norkor Wat by Seung Ngoc Thanh. Cambodian Journalism started to grow stronger until one dramatic fall. 1975-1979 Pol Pot Regime marked the biggest fall of journalist resources in Cambodia, killing almost all knowledgeable people, leaving not more than ten of journalists in the country, plus some migrated to other countries after the end of that dark period.

For the benefits of democracy, many newspapers have been published (around 200 newspapers listed in the publication), but are carefully monitored by the government and are vulnerable to being shut down anytime. Many newspapers have also been suspended for critical and negative speaking against Prime Minister Hun Sen and the government. The Cambodia Daily, a local English Newspaper, was once threatened to close and exile all its journalists but the plan to take this into action was stopped by the intervention of US Embassy in Cambodia. Only about 20 newspapers manage to have regular circulation in the community. The journalists themselves are also writing while they are sweating, fearing that they might be intimidated by some particular groups.

Since 1994, seven journalists have been killed and no murderer has been punished for justice. Six journalists were murdered between 1994 and 1997 in the course of their work. In June 1994, Tou Chom Mongkol, editor of Antarakhum (Intervention), was found dead in a Phnom Penh street. Police initially said he had died in a road accident, but a post mortem showed this was not possible. His newspaper had published a series of articles accusing leading political and military figures of involvement in corruption. In September of that year Nuon Chan, editor of Samleng Yuvachon Khmer (Khmer Youth News), was shot dead with two bullets. Two suspects were arrested and confessed to the crime - yet they have never been tried and it is not known who gave orders for the killing. Nuon Chan's newspaper is close to minister Sam Rainsy and the stories he used had already earned him numerous threats. In December 1994 Sao Chan Dara, a correspondent of the Khmer-language newspaper Koh Santepheap (Island of Peace Daily), was shot dead by two strangers in Kompong Cham province, north-east of the capital. A few weeks earlier he had accused the local authorities of involvement in timber trafficking. In May 1996 Thun Bun Ly, former editor of the opposition newspaper Uddomgatik Khmer (Khmer Conscience) , was shot dead by a man on a motorbike. A few days earlier he had written some harsh criticism of the wife of prime minister Hun Sen. Chet Duong Daravuth, formerly a journalist with Neak Proyuth (The Fighter News), died when a grenade was thrown into a crowd of demonstrators supporting Sam Rainsy in March 1997. Chou Chetharith, 40, a presenter from Ta Prum Radio Station which is linked to the opposition royalist party FUNCIPEC [he is also a member of that party] was shot at close range by two men on a motorcycle as he was getting out of his car in front of the station’s studios in Phnom Penh on 18 October 2003—The first journalist to be murdered since 1997. Four days prior to the murder, Prime Minister Hun Sen had said Radio Ta Pruhm should "control its programmes" better. (

Eighteen other journalists were injured in the attack. In July of the same year Michael Senior, a Canadian journalist working for Cambodian television, was shot dead at point-blank range by Cambodian soldiers in central Phnom Pemh during clashes between royalists and CPP supporters. This is not to include some journalists being accused and sent to jail. For example, Hen Vipheak, editor of Serei Pheap Thmei (New Liberty News), was convicted on May 1995 for disinformation on the article titled: A Cambodia: Country of Thieves. He was released after a week imprisonment due to King Sihanouk’s pardon and the two prime ministers’ agreement. None of the killers referred in the aforementioned kills has come to trial and police inquiries have reached stalemate. The same can be said of all the other infringements of press freedom - grenade and rocket-launcher attacks, assaults and threats - committed during the 1990s. Because of this impunity, journalists are not able to go about their work freely. For fear of reprisals, some opposition newspapers keep their addresses secret. (

The censorship is quite strict that the local broadcasters even ignore major news stories such as the 1998 death of Pol Pot, which was splashed in local newspapers but went unreported on Cambodian radio and television, according to Michael Hayes. (

Despite some threats or difficulties in the career, Cambodian journalism is improving day by day with some help from the international organisation, government compromising, and the people’s understanding of its importance. The first formal bachelor degree in Media Management was available at Royal University of Phnom Penh in 2001. The power of the Club of Cambodian Journalists is being well-known and respected by the society. Many media-related organisations are getting more and more places in the community and market too. Let us step forward to a great country of Cambodia with a respectable media system.

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