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Cambodian Newspaper Project: O - P

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.

Open Forum* / Vedikār Serī / វេទិកាសេរី

Open Forum began as a weekly paper in April 2, 1993 and closed down on May 15, 1993. Yale University Library holds two issues of the paper published on May 8 & 15, 1993. There was no information about its circulation as well as the reason of closure found during the research.

 

Based on the available issues, the paper provided coverage for national news only. It reported on both social and political issues of Cambodia. Crime and violence were the main social topics while the political ones reported on issues related to the political situation of Cambodian during that critical time. The political reports were mainly the analysis and commentary about the politicians and their activities as well as the political parties.  The paper also provided some irregular political and sentimental poems.

 

There was no source confirming the political stand/affiliation of the paper found during the research. But, it is very important to point out that on page 3 of issue 6, published on May 15, 1993 provided with a slogan in a large print supporting the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) that “Voting for CPP is like helping yourself”. Traditionally, the Cambodian paper has been used as a stepping stone by most Cambodian politicians to advance their political careers. In the case of Open Forum it could be that t the paper was used as a CPP’s propaganda for running up election and was closed down after the election.

Our Society News / Sārbartamān Saṅgam Yoeṅ / សារពត៌មានសង្គមយើង

The first issue of the paper was published on 27 December 1994. There was no information about its circulation volume found during this research. It is important to point out that the paper ceased publication a few years later. This could also be confirmed by the current list of media organizations posted on the Ministry of Information homepage that the paper was not included. However, when exactly it ceased publication is unknown.

 

The Our Society News is one of the opposition papers. The coverage and the nature of the paper certainly reflected its political line. Only local political news was seen mainly reported and also these news reports were heavily filled with opinion pieces and verbal attacks against the government, senior government officials and especially the Co-Prime Ministers – Prince Norodom Rannariddh and Samdech Hun Sen. Not surprisingly, the paper highly praised the Sam Rainsy Party and especially it provided coverage for Sam Rainsy, the party president.

 

It is also important to point out that the paper’s publisher, Thun Bunly, was a former writer and also editor for another opposition paper – Udomkati Khmer. He was fatally shot while riding a motorcycle in central Phnom Penh on 18 May 1996.

People (The)* / Prajājan / ប្រជាជន

The People is one of the party-owned newspapers began in 1985 by the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), formerly known as Kampuchean National Liberation Front. The same as the other CPP-owned papers, (The) People published weekly. There was no source confirming on its circulation during the 1980s, but according to a survey conducted by Judith Clarke from Journalism Department of Hong Kong Baptist College, the circulation in 1995 was 857. Clarke also explained that the paper survived through 1994 and had turned commercial by starting buying out computers and renting part of its office on Norodom Boulevard. Martson (1996) also explained that the paper was declared independent and consequently the format of the paper was also changed to reflect this. However, it was noticed that the paper was published less frequent, but still continued contributing to the government employees for free. The last update about the paper was that it was published two issues per week with a circulation of 3,000 copies. This was based on the media organization list by the Ministry of Information posted on its website (February, 2012).

 

The paper provides coverage for only local news that includes social and political related issues. However, it is noticed that the political reports seem to be the main focus of the paper and its reports were mainly about the activities of senior party members and also members in the government and sometimes was an attack on the opposition.  Because of its originality, the paper is still viewed as the propaganda of the Cambodian People’s Party.

People's Police (The)* / Nagarpāl Prajājan / នគរបាលប្រជាជន

It was a bi-weekly bulletin of the Ministry of the National Security and currently is the Ministry of Interior. In 1993, the subtitle of the paper was changed from the bulletin of the Ministry of National Security to the Ministry of National Security News.

 

Prior to 1993, the bulletin provided coverage for only the national news, but after 1993 its coverage included some international news. The news coverage was primarily on the social security issues or topics related to the police activities. The editorial also provided an analysis on the political and social issues in prior to the general national election. Its analysis and commentary was highly critical of the other threes Khmer factions – Democratic Kampuchea, FUNCIPEC and KPNLF.  Additionally, the bulletin included a literary section of Khmer short stories and poems as well as western novel.

 

People’s Police was the Cambodia People’s Party’s affiliated bulletin. The editorial line became hostile after 1993 election when the new collision government was formed. The editor complained about how difficult it was to writing anything before and eventually the media staff was removed to Agence Khmer de Presse (AKP) which is the government news agency. The former name of AKP was SPK during the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s.

Phnom Penh: The voice of Phnom Penh Municipal People* / Bhnaṃ Beñ: Samleṅ Prajājan Raṭṭhdhānī Bhnaṃ Beñ / ភ្នំពេញៈ សំឡេងប្រជាជន រដ្ឋធានីភ្នំពេញ

The paper began in February 1981 and ended in 1992.  It was published weekly, but not regularly. There was no information about its circulation volume during found during the research. Phnom Penh was known as the rival of Kampuchea despite both papers owned by the same party.

 

Phnom Penh had been an effective propaganda of the Cambodian People’s party over a decade. It provided coverage for only national news that included political and social topics.

 

In an interview given to Harris C. Mehta in 1995, Samithy explained that from 1981 to 1992 the state had no control over his paper but the party did. The paper was directly controlled by the Phnom Penh municipal government and owned by Kampuchean National Liberation Front and now is the Cambodian People’s Party. In those days, Smithy continued, the meeting was held weekly with the party officials to obtain their directives. The paper could, to certain extent, criticize the state in the name of the party and the state would pressure the paper through the party channel. Then the party would take action against the editor as penalty. 

 

It is also worthwhile mentioning that Pen Samithy, also known as Pen Pheng, is currently an editor-in-chief of Rasmei Kampuchea, the top and largest Khmer language newspapers. He is also the President of the Club of Cambodian Journalist. He was educated in Moscow in the 1980s.

Phnom Penh: the World* / Bhnaṃ Beñ Bibhablok / ភ្នំពេញៈ ពិភពលោក

The paper published it first issue on September 1995 and sold at 1,000 Riel per copy. It is worthwhile mentioning that Yale University Library holds only three issues of the paper that were published in September, October and December in 1995.  There was no further information about the paper found during the course of this research. The current list by the Ministry of Information posted on its website also does not provide any information about the paper. This certainly indicates that the paper is no longer in operation, but the exact is unknown.

 

According to those available issues, it seemed that the paper aimed providing educational piece about the world rather than the actual news because most of its articles talked about the arts, social science and humanity, science, superstition and so on in a general context. Also, the paper almost did not at all about local politics.

Pop Stars* / Jivit Kamsānt / ជីវិតកំសាន្ត

Pop Star is not a newspaper, but is a monthly magazine. Yale holds only one issue of the magazine published in September 1994. According to the list by the Ministry of Information currently posted on its website (www.information.gov.kh, 2012) the magazine runs a circulation of 2,000 copies.

 

The magazine provides heavily coverage for entertainment and is filled with a lot of commercial ads. Some of the major coverage is on the life of the pop stars and beauty tips. The magazine reported not only the local pop star, but also those in the region countries and the western world.

Preap Norm Sar / Brāp Nāṃ Sār / ព្រាបនាំសារ

Preap Norm Sar (The Bird Messenger) was published in 1994. Yale University Library holds only one issue of the paper that was issued on December 14-15, 1994. There was no further information about the paper found during the course of this research. Even the current list by the Ministry of Information posted on its website does not list the paper. This certainly indicates that the paper is no longer in operation, but the exact date is unknown.

 

The same as other local Khmer language newspapers, Preap Norm Sar provided coverage for only local news that was heavily on social and political issues. The social issues included crime, violence and corruption committed by the government officials. For example, in 1995 the paper ran a series of articles implicating the provincial governor of Kampong Cham in illegal logging deals and also a governor’s son in a murderer of a newspaper reporter for Koh Santepheap whose name was Chan Dara. He was abused as he was leaving the restaurant. Dara complained two days before he was killed that he was warned by a local officials not to write for Preap Norm Sar, which was well-known as anti-government newspaper.

Present News / Ṭaṃṇẏṅ Paccuppannabhāb / ដំណឹងបច្ចុប្បន្នភាព

Present News began in early in 1995 as a weekly paper published every Thursday. Yale University Library holds most issues of the paper published in 1995 and early 1996. The earliest issue of the holdings is issue no. 3 published on March 2-3, 1995. No further information or update about the paper found during the course of this research. It is believed that paper must have ceased publication sometime in the 1990s. The current list by the Ministry of Information posted on its website also does not provide any information about the paper. This certainly indicates that the paper is no longer in operations despite the exact date is unknown.  

 

The paper provided coverage for only national news featured through its news reports, analysis and the cartoons. The news reports were mainly an opinion based article focused primarily on politics, politicians and the activities of the senior government officials. The paper also provided readers with a novel fiction. It is also noticed that the paper contained some pornography on the 2nd and 3rd page in some issues.

 

There was no source confirming on the political stand and affiliation of the paper, but according to the articles published in those available issues in hands, the paper seemed to have aligned with the opposition. It might also be worthwhile mentioning that on July 11, 2008, a report for Khmer Conscience also name Khim Sambo and his son were gunned down by unidentified gunmen in central Phnom Penh. There was no source confirming if these two people connected. 

Proloeung Cheat News / Bralẏṅ Jāti / ព្រលឹងជាតិ

One of the oldest papers was established during UNTAC era and has survived through today. Yale University Library holds the earliest issue printed on October 6, 1993. 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 357 and increased to 1,500 copies according a survey conducted by a group of students from National Institute of Management in 2003 (Jarvis & Arfanis, 2004) . The paper was sold at 400 Riel per copy. The current list by the Ministry of Information posted on its website (February, 2012) shows that the paper is being published eight issues per month under a new publisher, Thoeung Hong San, with a circulation of 3,000 copies.

 

According to the available issues held by Yale University Library, the paper is featured with news reports, editorial and commentary section and cartoons to provide coverage for the local news on social and political issues. However, political reports seem to have been covered the most by the paper. In addition, the paper also provides a section on literary that includes a novel fiction and poem.

 

There is no source confirming on the political affiliation of the paper found during the research, but according to the available issues the paper seems very critical of the government, parliamentary and court.

Prumbayon / Brahm pāyăn / ព្រហ្មបាយ័ន

The paper began in 1994.  According to the survey conducted in 1995 by Clarke from Journalism Department of Hong Kong Baptist College the paper was printed two issues per week in Khmer language with some English and with a circulation of 857. It is believed that the paper ceased publication sometime in the 1990s, but there was no source confirmed this. Mehta (1997) in his book entitled Cambodia Silenced: The press under six regimes explains that the publication was closed down by the government in June, 1994 for insulting the country’s leader. However, this doesn’t seem right because the latest available issue held by Yale University Library was issue no. 27 published on September 8, 1994. Nonetheless, the current list by the Ministry of Information posted on its website does not list the paper either. This certainly indicates that the paper is no longer in operation despite the exact date is unknown.

 

Not much difference from other local Khmer language newspapers in Cambodia, the paper provided only the local news and mainly on a political issue. The paper was flooded with opinion based articles, analysis and its irregular cartoons that were highly critical of the government, the ruling parties and especially the two prime ministers. The paper was also strongly anti-Vietnam and the Hanoi government. This was not surprising at all because Prumbayon was well-known as one of the opposition papers. Another interesting note to point out was that the paper provided neither a literary section nor held any advertisements at all.