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Cambodian Newspaper Project: 1863 - 1953: French Colonization

A collection of Cambodian newspapers in the 1990s, a transition period when Cambodia emerged from a communist to a liberal democratic state. A historical collection that can tell so many stories Cambodia experienced during this transition period.

1863 - 1953: The French Colonization



No attention was paid on the press in the beginning of the colonialism period. It was observed that some news about Cambodia might appear in the press in Saigon and Hanoi. A few decades later, more attention was paid on Cambodia as some journals and newspapers in French, Khmer, Vietnamese and Chinese began to publish. In 1936, the first Khmer language newspaper called Nagaravatta was established. The following are some chronological events of the print media during this colonization period.


Some Major Events:



  • 1884 – :

Bullentin official du Cambodge, the French language journal was established.


  • 1890 – :

Annuaire illustre du Cambodge, the first Khmer periodical was printed.


  • 1899 – 1900:

Le petit Cambodgien, the private French language newspaper was printed.


  • 1911 – Present:

Reachekech, a Government Khmer language periodical was published off and on and the name was changed to Rathakech when Cambodia was not ruled by King). Currently this publication is published by the Councils Minister of Cambodia.


  •  1918 – 1919:

La gazette Khmer, which was a Cambodian edition of L’Opinion, and the L’Educateur francais were published.


  • 1922 – :

L’ Echo du Cambodge, a French language newspaper was published.


  • 1923 – :

L’ Impartial de Phnom Penh, French language newspaper was published.


  • 1926 – Present:

Kambujasuriya, a Khmer language periodical was established and managed by the Buddhist Institute.


  • 1926 – :

L’ Echo du Cambodge (a Vietnamese language version) and some other Chinese newspaper were published


  • 1929 – :

Cao-mien Huong-truyen, Vietnamese language newspaper was published.


  • 1930s:

Khemara Nisut, was established by Khmer Students in Paris.


  • 1935 – 1939:

Reatrey Tngay Sao, serialized of the early Khmer novel was printed.


  • 1936 – 1942:

Nagaravatta, the first Khmer language and nationalist newspaper was established by Pach Chheun, Sim Var and Son Ngoc Thanh who were the Khmer media pioneers. It was closed down and confiscated by the French in 1942 when it was accused of ultra nationalist against the French. Pach Chheun was arrest and sentenced to imprisonment. Sim Var was also arrested and released with intervention from the King. Son Ngoc Thanh escaped the jailed sentence and fled to Thailand and then to Japan.


  • 1945 – 1945:

Nagarvatta was re-printed by Son Ngoc Thanh after he returned from Japan and when Japan took over Cambodia from French. However, it was closed within that same year after the French defeated Japan and reoccupied Cambodia.


  • 1947:

The first Cambodian Constitution was adopted. Noticeably, it was a time when the Cambodian press enjoyed more freedom and began to grow. By 1960s, there were over 12 newspapers published but they largely served as mouthpieces for political parties.


  • 1951 – Present:

Khmer News Agency/Agence Khmere de Presse was established with around 2, 000 readers subscribed to its news bulletins in Khmer, English and French during that time. Between 1979 to 1993, the name was changed to Sarapordamean Kampuchea (SPK) and in 1993 after the general election, it was changed back to Agence Khmer de Presse (AKP), but later and till now it has been changed to Agence Kampuchea Presse (AKP).


  • 11 January 1952:

Khmer Kraok (Khmer Rise), the second Khmer language paper was published by Son Ngoc Thanh. Unfortunately, because of its strong opinion on the reform of Cambodian political system, the paper was closed down a month later.


  • 9 November 1953:

Cambodia gained independence from France.