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Cambodian Newspaper Project: M - N

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.

Mirror (The) / Kañcák Saṅgaṃ / កញ្ចក់សង្គម

The Mirror was the English version of the publication while Mirror of Society was the Khmer version. The English version was first published in May 1997 while the Khmer version began in July 1998. Unfortunately, as explained by the publisher posted on the newspaper site, the paper was closed down in mid 2006 after the Board of Directors of the Open Forum of Cambodia which had oversights the paper at that time withdrew the financial resources that had been granted for the continuing support of the papers. However, with some institutional and financial support from the Open Institute, a few other contributors, and personal saving of the publisher covering the shortfall, the paper was able to continue its publication from the beginning of 2007 through April 3, 2011. Nonetheless, only its English version was published and as an online publication that can be accessed at http://www.cambodiamirror.org.

 

It is important to emphasize that from its establishment through mid 2006; the papers were published weekly in print copy and also sent through email. The English version of the paper provided an overview of the Khmer languages press in English translations with a reflective editorial on Sundays. It was a consolidated publication of articles from across the political spectrum and across the fields of interest that included facts, politically biased ‘analysis’, and rumor, corruption, courage, disaster, achievement, the ridiculous, and opportunities for improvement and social justice. It is important to point out that the weekend editorial analysis was often focused on instances of injustice, corruption, inefficiency, or blind patriotism and this had put the publisher in great concerns after some criticism and threats. The Khmer version of the paper very much followed the same principle. The paper was very well-regarded with quite a widespread of its readerships that included not only those in the city but also those in the province and overseas. The publisher explains that in addition to its regular subscribers and copies for all members of Parliament and key government administrators, up to 2000 copies of the paper were delivered weekly into the provinces, where there were hardly any Khmer language newspapers.  

 

From 2007 through April 3, 2011, the online paper was published a daily translation from Khmer language press from Monday to Saturday with an editorial on Sundays. The publisher explained that the page attracted visitors up to 10,000 per month from some surprising number of countries around the world.

 

In late 2010, due to the reduction of its resources, the paper began to publish less frequent and also its contents was fundamentally changed. It was no longer based on the translations from the Khmer language presses, but was on a wide variety of sources including those were out of the country. By October 2010 when it got contributed by a young graduate with a degree in journalism from the Media and Communication from the Royal University of Phnom Penh and a western journalism experience as a co-editor, the paper was hoped to be able to maintain its principle focus and provide a platform and voice for young Cambodian journalists and journalism students. But the plan was a bit over ambitious as put by the publisher and didn’t work out as she decided not to take up that large role with the paper. Therefore, the issue of 3 April 2011 is the last regular publication of The Mirror.

Moneaksekar Khmer / Sārbartamān Manasikār Khmaer / សារពត៌មានមនសិការខ្មែរ

Moneaksekar Khmer is a second largest opposition paper with circulation fluctuated between 8,000 and 10,000 copies prior to the crisis in 1997. However, currently, the circulation has shrunken to about 2,800 copies a day. This drop was explained by the editor that there was no big political news and also the people get tired of politics these days. The paper has eight staff and seven reporters.

 

The paper publishes highly politicized, blunt political news that mostly anti-government and pro-SRP. It is important to point out that this paper sometime publishes stories not based on facts, but on rumors or accusations. The editor and owner of the paper, Mr Dam Dith, is a steering committee member and a deputy secretary general of Sam Rainsy Party. As admitted by the editor of engagement in journalism politics, the paper reports mostly the shortcomings of the government in an act as opposition voice. The editor also explained that there was no need to shape the style of the paper in the future as its value lies on the opposition role. Another role that the paper is taking on is to educate its party member abouttheir political and social rights as well as their rights to make their own decision.

 

According to an article by Committee to Protect Yournalists as quoted from a joint statement made by the local right group, Dam Sith was jailed by a criminal court charged on defamation and disinformation on June 8th after his paper published an article in relations to a speech made by Sam Rainsy that was highly critical to several government officials and raised questions about the ministers' past association with khmer Rouge. At the same time the paper was also forced to closed down while Dam Sith was jailed. However, he was released within a week later an intervention letter of the Prime Minister Hun Sen sent to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court and the paper was also allowed to republish and this made the public doubtful about its future political stand.

Motherland* / Mātubhūmi / មាតុភូមិ

Motherland is one of the oldest Khmer language newspaper s that has survived through today. An interesting note from the paper itself of its earliest issue held by Yale University Library published on July 13, 1993 indicates that it was in its vol. 38. This clearly shows that originally the paper must have begun publishing before 1993, but republished in 1993. It could have begun in the 1960s and/or early 1970, but there was no source confirming on this.

 

A survey conducted in 1995 by Judith Clarke from Journalism Department of Hong Kong Baptist College shows that the paper was printed weekly with a circulation as small as 300 copies. Additionally, a survey conducted in 2004 by Helen Jarvis and Peter Arfanis and the current list by the Ministry of Information posted on its website (February, 2012) consistently shows that the paper continues publishing weekly with a circulation increases from 300 to 1,800 and 4,000.

 

The same as other local Khmer language newspapers, Motherland provides coverage for local news only. The most significant and heavily coverage of the paper is a political issues related to the activities of the senior government officials and those Cambodian prominent politicians. Because Motherland is known as Cambodian People’s Party affiliated paper, its political reports and cartoons are often highly critical to the opponent parties and their members.

Morals* / Sujivadharm / សុជីវធម៌

The first issue of the paper was published on November 1, 1995. There was no information on its circulation volume found during the course of this research. The paper also does not appear in the media list posted on the Ministry of Information homepage (www.information.gov.kh, 2012). This certainly indicates that the paper is no longer in operation. However, the exact date is unknown.

 

According to those issues held by Yale University Library, the paper provided coverage for only local news and mainly on a political related issue. For example, the paper reported on the activities of the government and senior government officials and especially the activities of the second Prime Minister Hun Sen.  The same as other local Khmer language newspapers, Morals also provided readers with two separate novels on its second and third page. Interestingly, those novels were written by Khieu Kannarith, who was the then Secretary of State of the Ministry of Information in the 1990s and now is the Minister.

 

There is no source confirming on the political stand of the paper, but the paper itself claimed that it committed to serving the public and also following the government policy. Perhaps this was true as the paper mainly reported the positive side of the government and especially about the second Prime Minister Hun Sen.

 

It is important to point out that the paper was first found in 1967 and was very popular during that time. Its selling volume was up to 11,000 copies. Because of a pressure, as claimed by the paper itself, it had to close during the Lon Nol regime and the subsequent ones. So, its publication in 1995 was the beginning of its second item.  

Morning news / Ṭaṃṇẏṅ Belbrẏk / ដំណឹងពេលព្រឹក

Morning News was founded in early 1994 by Nguon Nonn with US$500 investment of his personal pocket saving to run a small office under his apartment (Mehta, 1997). A survey conducted in 1995 by Judith Clarke from Journalism Department of Hong Kong Baptist College listed the paper was printed twice-weekly with a circulation of 1,429 copies, but sometimes it was published more often than this. It is important to point out that the current list by the Ministry of Information posted on its website, www.information.gov.kh, shows another newspaper with a similar title, Pel Proeuk (Belbrẏk), with a different publisher. However, it is not clear if there is any connection between these two newspapers as there has no source confirmed on this found during the course of this research.

 

According to Mehta (1997), during the early period of its publications, the paper was very successful and well-known for its bold expose on many sensitive issues such as corruption, and shook the coalition government. Its reports were well-researched and the paper was acknowledged by the public as one of the few credible newspapers in the country. It also important to point out that because of its quality, the paper became the country’s top-seller with a circulation up to 45,000 copies per week. The number even rose higher later and was sold like a hot cake, especially when it was reporting on the mastermind of the coup in 1993 led by Prince Chakrapong.

 

However, it is also important to point out that Morning News, like most local Khmer language newspapers, was not independent from the politics at all. It was very loyal to the royalist and Nguon Nonn himself was a member of FUNCIPEC. Because of its plucky coverage, the paper got into trouble several times includes having to postpone its publications and the jail of its editor. For example, on March 23, 1994 Nguon Nonn was charged with libel and jailed after his article alleging the governor of Svay Rieng province, Hok Long Dy, and a deputy governor of Prey Veng province, Yuth Phou Than, of corruption. The article alleged the governors of stealing vehicles belonged to the United Nations. However, with an intervention from the retired King, Nonn was released in the following two days. The second charge against him was on breaching the national security when his report alleged the President of the National Assembly, Chea Sim, and his brother-in-law Sar Kheng, Minister of Interior, were behind the coup led by Prince Chakrapong on July 3, 1993. Consequently, the paper was ordered to temporarily close down and Nonn was jailed. Fortunately, he was released after serving for almost one month when the government found no evidence of connection or involvement of Chea Sim and Sar Kheng within that coup.  

 

Perhaps, it is also worthwhile mentioning that Nonn is one of the Cambodian prominent journalists. According to Mehta (1997) he used to work for a semi-government paper, Realites Cambodgiennes, and the government publication Kambuja and Le Sangkum in the 1960s. Later in the 1960s, he was the editor in-chief of Khmer Ekareach (Khmer Independent).

New Liberty News / Sārbartamān Serībhāb Thmī / សារពត៌មានសេរីភាពថ្មី

The paper was established in 1994 as a twice weekly paper. A survey conducted in 1995 by Judith Clarke from Journalism Department of Hong Kong Baptist College shows that the paper ran with a circulation of 571 copies. Another survey conducted later in 2003 by a group of students from the National Institute of Management as explained by Jarvis and Arfanis (2004) that the paper was printed irregularly with a circulation of 2,000 copies. However, the current list by the Ministry of Information posted on its website (February, 2012) does not provide any information about the paper. This certainly indicates that the paper is no longer in operations, but no source has confirmed the exact date.

 

Perhaps it is worthwhile mentioning that Hen Vipheak or Hen Phearak was a former member of the Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party, but left the party and run the paper. He was a founding publisher and editor-in-chief of the New Liberty News. The paper was publishing bearing his name till issue 144 that was printed on November 4/5, 1995. The next couple issues of the paper were printed without a name of the publisher and editor. Starting from issue 146, the paper was printed under Som Vireak as a publisher and editor-in-chief of the paper. It is also important to point out that Hen Phearak was also an editor for the Udamkati Khmer Newspaper (Khmer Ideals Newspaper) from 1992 to 1993 and later the editor for Prum Bayon. These papers were closed down by the government for insulting the country leaders. Another interesting piece of information to point out is that Mr Hen Phearak is currently running another newspaper, Ponleu Khmer. The paper is published twice-weekly with a circulation of 3,000 copies.

 

New Liberty News was one of the anti-government and pro-opposition papers. The paper provided coverage for only local news about social and political issues. The social issue was mainly reported on crime and violence while the political coverage was heavily filled with reports and analysis based on opinion and lack of facts and evidence. For example, the paper got into trouble in February 1995 when it ran a political commentary headline “country of thieves” that was highly criticized Hun Sen was a chief of thieves. Consequently, Hen Phearak was sentence to one year jailed and fined US$2,000. Judge, Ouk Savuth, ruled on December 22, 1995 by ordering Phearak to close down his paper. Phearak was pardoned by the retired King in 1996. Besides its highly critical commentary, the paper also published an irregular cartoon that was highly politically and socially critical. For example, one of its cartoons had Hun Sen pointing a gun at Ranariddh’s head to make him sign documents. 

 

It also important to point out that in August 1995, the office of the paper was attacked by people from Krang Yov, development zone supported by the Second Prime Minister Hun Sen. They were not happy with the paper after it ran an article in critical of the project implemented in the development zone.

New-Messenger / Sārbartamān qnak nāṃsār Thmī / អ្នកនាំសារថ្មី

The paper actually began in 1994, but the earliest issue held by Yale University Library was number 23 printed for September 19-20, 1995. There was no information found about its circulation volume as well as an update during the research. According to the publication itself shows that the paper was sold at 400 Riel per copy. It is also worthwhile mentioning that the paper is not listed by the Ministry of Information on its list of media organization posted on the ministry homepage (February, 2012). This certainly indicate that the paper is very likely that the paper stopped its operation, but when exactly is unknown. It importantly to point out that, legally all papers must registered with and obtained its license before starting publishing and they are normally listed on the ministry list.

 

According to the available issues, the paper was heavily flooded with local political news related to the activities of the senior government officials that some were critical while some other were applause. Besides, crimes and violence that was also narrowly reported, paper also provided a section on literary section with two novel fictions.

 

There was no reliable source confirming the political stand of the paper, but it looks like a pro-government paper. However, it was not a clear cut if it was on the FUNCINPEC or CPP side. Not surprisingly, the paper was very critical of the opposition voice.

Nokor Khmer News / Sārbartamān Nagar Khmaer / សារព័ត៌មាននគរខ្មែរ

Nokor Khmer News was established in 1995 as a weekly newspaper. According to the current list by the Ministry of Information posted on its website (February, 2012), the paper is currently being published one issue per week with a circulation of 3,000 copies. Unfortunately, Yale University Library holds only two issues (2 & 3) of the paper that were published in September 1995.

 

There was no source explaining the coverage of the paper found during this research, but according to the available issues in hands show that the paper provides coverage for only the national news. The paper features include the social and political newsreports, social and political analysis/commentary and the educational section of Khmer history and literary. However, in absence of the current issues, it is not sure if any change has been made over time.

 

Similarly, there was no source confirming the political affiliation of the paper found during the course of this research. But based on those available issues of the paper it seems that the paper is pretty critical of some senior government officials, but expresses strong sympathy toward the lower level government official as well as the general public. The paper also praises and complements the retired King and on his accomplishments.

Nokor Phnom News / Sārbartamān Nagar Bhnaṃ / សារពត៌មាននគរភ្នំ

The paper published its first issue on 30 October 1995. The name of the publisher and editor-in-chief given in this profile was based on that earliest issue. However, the current list of the Ministry of Information posted on its homepage shows that Tith Dara is the current publisher of the paper.

 

According to those early issues of the paper held by Yale University Library, the paper provided coverage for local news only and with a heavy educational piece of history on Khmer Krom or Khmer Kampuchea Krom that is currently South Vietnam. The land was part of the Cambodian territory in prior to 1949 before the French ruled, for its administrative purpose during its colonization, to be under Vietnam. A large number of Cambodian population are still living there and unfortunately have become a minority on own motherland. The editorial line of the paper seems to have aimed at providing a deeper understanding and an insight to this historical piece.

 

It was very clear, according to those early issues, that the Nokor Phnom News was a pro-Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party (BLDP) paper, the party that headed by Samdech Soen San. The paper also praised the leadership and achievements of the party president. It was not surprising at all that paper was strongly critical and highly anti-Vietnamese government.

 

It worthwhile to point out that there is no source confirmed on the current coverage of the paper as well as its political affiliation after the collapse of BLDP.