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Cambodian Newspaper Project: Q - R

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.

Rasmei kampuchea Daily / Rasmī Kambujā / រស្មីកម្ពុជា

Rasmei Kampuchea is the first Khmer Language newspaper was established prior to the national general election administered by UNTACT in 1993. It began with 12 page lengths to 16 and now about 20 pages in total that divides into two sections. The first section contributes to news report while the second section is for entertainment, sport and advertisements. The newspaper has its own printing house with large, modern rotating printer. Like most other newspapers, Rasmei Kampuchea, is the most sizable paper and is sold at 700 riel per copy.  Besides subscription fee and print copy sales, the newspaper also generates its most revenue from advertisement that carries about one third of the entire advertisement in Cambodian press.

 

The paper was founded in 1993 and is owned by a business tycon Theng Bun Ma and his Thai company Thai Boon Roong as a joint venture with Thai media firm Wattachak. During the crisis 1997, the Thai media firm left, but publication continues to survive. According to a report in 2008 by local rights NGOs, LICADHO, Theng Bunma perhaps was the richest in the 1990s and had donated one million dollar to the Second Prime Minister, Hun Sen, in 1997. These days not much heard about him while it is known that the paper is being managed by his son, Khav Sambath. However, according to the report by LICADHO in 2009 the paper is co-owned by Phlong Chhum and Pen Samitthy.

 

Pen Samithy, is also known Pen Pheng, his writing name, was educated in Moscow in the 1980s and was also the editor of the Phnom Penh Weekly, owned by the Phnom Penh Municipality government between 1981 and 1992. He is currently also the President of the Club of Cambodian Journalists.

 

Rasmei Kampuchea is considered as the top and a model paper to the local Khmer language newspapers.

However, its political stand is controversial. While the editor claims the paper is independent and neutral, others think the reverse.

Reaksmei Angkor / Rasmī Qaṅgar / រស្មីអង្គរ

The paper was first published twice a week with circulation of 5,000 and currently it is published three times weekly - Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The paper is purely in Khmer printed in black and white with four page lengths and a circulation of 6,000 copies.  It is being operated by 12 staff.

 

The paper is affiliated to and funded by the Cambodian People Party (CPP) and is used by the party to print the party propaganda. It claims that it is allowed to write articles that are critical of lower level of CPP officials who engaged in wrongdoings. The paper also picks up some advertisement, but the rate is negotiable due to the fact that operation is based on the party's budget.

Republic News / Sārbartamān Sādhāraṇaraṭṭh / សារពត៌មានសាធារណរដ្ឋ

The Republic News began in 1995, but the earliest issue held by Yale University Library is number 7. The paper was published weekly either on Monday or Tuesday of the week. There was no information about its circulation volume found during the research. The paper was ordered to close down by the government in early 1996 for its violation of constitution.

 

According to the available issues at Yale University Library, the paper provided the coverage for only local news that was flooded with opinion based writing pieces of political and social issues.

It is very clear that the paper was used as a political tool and mouthpiece to defend and advocate the political ideology and principles of the right-wing. The paper strongly embraced and praised the collapsed regime of Khmer Republic and its leader, General Lon Nol (1970-1975). Instead of recognizing and acknowledging the achievements made by both monarchy and the current government, the paper used it editorial line to strongly criticize and attack these institutions. The paper criticized not only the King (Norodom Sihanouk) but also denied his achievements as well as his leadership and regime in the 1960s.

 

The King is protected by the Cambodia constitution as a national figurehead, head of state and is untouchable. Criticizing and attacking the King is violating the constitution. The Republic News had been warned several times by the government before it was closed down in early 1996.