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Cambodian Newspaper Project: S - T

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.

Sakal News (The Globe*) / Sakal / សកល

Yale University Library holds the 1st issue of the paper published on February 27, 1994. A survey conducted by Judith Clarke, Journalism Department of Hong Kong Baptist College in 1995 shows that the paper published twice weekly with a circulation of 3,429. However, the current list by the Ministry of Information posted on its website (February 2012) shows that the paper is published two issues a month with a circulation as small as 1,000 copies.

 

The same as other local Khmer language newspapers, Sakal News provides coverage for only local news related to social and political issues. The social issue is often reported on crime and violence while the political one is often on the activities of the senior government officials as well as the prominent politicians. In addition, the paper also runs an irregular cartoon that is also critical of political and social issues. As for entertainment, the paper also provides a literary section with a novel fiction and poem for its readers.

 

There is no information confirming the political affiliation of the paper. Based on the available issues, the paper is critical of the royalist and the opposition, but is rather soft with CPP.  It is important to point out that the paper was banned on May 16, 1994 after it ran articles and cartoons violating the country constitution by challenging and criticizing King Norodom Sihanouk’s involvement with Khmer Rouge. According to the constitution the King is untouchable. So, criticizing and challenging the King’s record is a violation of the constitution. However, the paper was resumed within that same month after the charge was dropped.

Samleng Niseth News / Samleṇ Nisset / សម្លេងនិស្សិត

The first issue of the paper was published on October 17, 1995. There was no information about the circulation of the paper then found during this research. It is assumed that the paper ceased publication as it is not currently listed by the Ministry of Information on its media list that posted on the ministry homepage (February, 2012). Legally, all newspapers must have registered with and obtained a license from the Ministry of Information before starting publishing.

 

According the issues held at Yale University Library, the paper provided coverage for only local news that was heavily flooded with political and opinion based reports. Besides, the same as other local Khmer language newspapers, the paper provided readers with a literary section included a novel fiction.

 

There was no source confirmed on the political stand of the paper found during this research, but according to the available issues show that the paper was highly critical of the opposition and the FUNCINPEC President Prince Norodom Rannariddh and who was then First Prime Minister. In contrast, the paper praised the ruling party CPP and especially Samdech Hun Sen, then second Prime Minister.

Samleng Thmei / Saṃleṅ Thmī / សម្លេងថ្មី

According to Mehta (1997) the paper was established in August 1994. However, looking at the available issues held by Yale University Library, this doesn’t seem right because the issue no. 2 of the paper was published on December 15/16, 1994. If the paper was actually published weekly, issue no. 1 of the paper should have been published sometime in early December. Nonetheless, there could be a case that the paper obtained license from the Ministry of Information in August but did not publish till December.

 

A survey conducted in 2003 by a group of students from the National Institute of Management as explained by Jarvis and Arfanis (2004) that the paper was published weekly with a circulation of 2,000 copies. It is important to point out that the current list by the Ministry of Information posted on its website (February, 2012) does not provide any information about the paper. This certainly explains that the paper is no longer in operations, but the exact date is unknown. The paper could have ceased publication sometime later in the 2000s.

 

According the available issues of the paper in hands, the paper provided coverage for only local news that was primarily reported on the social and political issues such as crime and violence and the activities of the senior government officials. The paper also provided readers with a novel fiction, a couple poems, jokes and a history piece varied from one issues to another. There was also an irregular cartoon published in the paper.

 

There was no source confirming the political stand or affiliation of the paper found during the course of this research. The paper itself also does not provide a clear cut on this. However, it is might be worthwhile mentioning that the paper seemed to praise the government and the retired King. In contrast, the paper criticized H.E. Sam Rainsy and those publishers of the anti-government and pro-Sam Rainsy papers.

 

Perhaps, it is also worthwhile mentioning that Khun Ngo is a veteran editor who ran paper during Sihanouk and Lon Nol regime and he survived through the Pol Pot regime.  During the Sihanouk regime, he was the publisher of two Khmer language newspapers - Reach Khmer (Royal Khmer) and Siteak Monus (Human Rights) and during the Khmer Republic he published another one - Prum Daen (Border Limit). Because of his records as Sihanouk’s supporter, he was turned into critic by the Lon Nol regime. So, he was hounded by the government. One of his articles that really got him into trouble with regime was his the headline that read he hated letter “L”, which he actually meant “Luy” a Khmer word for money, but the police misunderstood the matter and thought he meant “Lon Nol”. Khun Ngo  was in his 50s as at 1997.

Samleng Yuvachon Khmer / Samleṅ Yuvajan Khmaer / សម្លេងយុវជនខ្មែរ

Samleng Yuvachon Khmer was among those papers published in the early 1990s. It was the paper that had shifted its political stand often and had also suffered the most. According to Marston (1996) and Reang & Moeun (2007) the paper began as a FUNCINPEC bulletin in 1992 and turned to a student newspaper in April 1994 printed twice a week (Tuesday & Friday) in black and white in four pages with circulation of over one thousand copies. The paper covered mainly political news and strongly critical of the government, the FUCINPEC and the Cambodian People Party.

 

In July 1994, the editor-in-chief, Keo Phall resigned after receiving three warnings from the cabinet of the 1st Prime Minister, Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Information respectively. His successor was Mr Non Chan who then was the adviser to the paper. Unfortunately, he was gunned down on 6 September 1994 in Phnom Penh. In prior to his murder, he had received written warnings from the Ministry of Information. If he had not been killed, he would have been sued by the Ministry of Information, according to LICADHO report (2009) as quoted HE Khieu Kanarith, the Secretary of State of the Ministry of Information.

 

After the death of Non Chan, Chan Ratana resumed the role as an editor-in-chief of the paper to continue its political stand. A survey conducted by Clarke in 1995 shows that the paper was still published twice weekly with a circulation of 1,429 copies, but according to the issues held by Yale Library, the paper changed to publish every Sunday and Thursday. On February 27, 1995, the paper was charged with publishing false and defamatory news by Phnom Penh municipal court based on UNTAC Penal Code and Chan Ratana was sentenced to one year jail term and ordered to pay a fine of five million riels (US$2,000). A charged was made on a story published in the paper stated that “Prince Ranariddh was three time more stupid than He was also sentenced to one year jail by a supreme court a year later.

 

The successor of Chan Ratana is Ou Sovann who is a steering committee member of Sam Rainsy Party. The paper continued to publish twice weekly, every Saturday and Sunday, but completely acted as a mouthpiece of Sam Rainsy party and strongly criticized the government and the ruling parties. A survey conducted by Edmen (2000) shows that the paper published daily with circulation fluctuated between 3,500-8,000 copies. The sales of the papers and advertisements were the main source of incomes to support the 13 staff run the paper as there was no financial support from the party. Because of information limited, the paper stories were based on rumors, opinions. Sovann explained that he knew how to work as a professional journalist, but he chose to write what readers want to hear.

 

A survey conducted by Jarvis and Arfanis in 2002 shows that paper continue to published daily with circulation of 3,000 copies but with a new publisher, Tie Then, and editor-in-chief, Chhoem Sarith. However, according a joined report by the ADHOC and CLEC in 2006 reported that Keo Sothea was the editor-in-chief of the paper and was suited by tycoon Mong Rethy over an article published Samleng Yuvachon Khmer in October 2001 based on a report of Global Witness. He was fined US$17,750 compensation and the later Rethy dropped the suit.

 

 According to The Asia Media Directory published in 2004 by KNF shows that Keo Sothea was the editor-in-chief of the paper and it was still listed as an opposition paper that attacked the government and officials. However, the new updated directory in 2008 shows that the paper had switched to Norodom Ranariddh Party where Keo Sothea was a member of the party Board of Directors and the report by LICADHO in 2009 stated that was switched to FUNCINPEC first before backing Norodom Ranariddh Party.

 

Nonetheless, it is important to point out the Samleng Yuvachon Khmer or The Voice of Khmer Youth is not listed on the website of the Ministry of Information. Possibly this indicates that this paper is no longer in operation. However, there is no confirmed source found at this point.

Sangkruos Cheat / Saṅgroaḥ Jāti / សង្រោះជាតិ

Sangkruos Cheat began in 1994 as a weekly paper printed every Thursday. There was no information about the circulation volume of the paper during those issues years in the 1990s, but a survey conducted by a group of students from the National Institute of Management in 2003 shows that its circulation then was 2,700 copies. It is believed that the paper must have ceased publication sometime after 2003 as there was no further information about the paper found during the course of this research. It is also worthwhile pointing out that the current list by the Ministry of Information posted on its website (February, 2012) does not provide any information about the paper. Therefore, it is very likely that the paper is no long in operations.

 

The same as other local Khmer language newspapers, Sangkruos Cheat provided coverage for only the national news that was primarily on social and political issues. However, political issue was seen as the main coverage of the paper. This coverage provided through mainly an opinion piece and analysis about the political situation, politicians and the government.

 

There was no source confirming on the political affiliation of the paper. However, based on those available issues in hand it seemed to tell that the paper was strongly aligned with the opposition party.

 

It is also worthwhile mentioning that on the top to the left of the first page of the paper itself clearly stated that it represented the ideology of Buoy Sreng, who is a Cambodia prominent journalist and also was the advisor to the paper. He served in the field in the 1960s and 1970s and was jailed by the Khmer Republic government in 1972.

Sangkruos Khmer News / Saṅgroaḥ Khmaer / សង្រោះខ្មែរ

There is no confirmed source explained when exactly the paper was established. Yale University Library holds some issues covered in late 1995 and early 1996 that were the fifth and the sixth year (Vol. 5 & Vol. 6) of the publication. So, this certainly indicates that the paper could have begun sometime in 1991. However, this could not be confirmed. It is also important to point out that the paper is not listed on the website of the Ministry of Information (February, 2012). This pretty much indicates that the paper is no longer in operation. However, when exactly is unknown.

 

Very much the same as other local Khmer language newspapers, Sangkruos Khmer News provided its coverage for the local news only. It often reported on the activities of the senior government officials and some social issues. It is also important to point out that according to those issues held by Yale University Library the paper seemed to have flooded with political and opinion based articles. Its editorial and the cartoons were strongly critical of the government, political parties, politicians and Vietname. There was a column on short stories that often revealed and criticized the social issues. It was also noted that the paper held no advertisement at all.

 

Typically, the local Khmer language newspapers are often affiliated with a political party for political and financial reasons. In the case of Sangkruos Khmer News, there was no source confirmed on this, but it claimed to be independent and neutral paper while most of it articles, the commentary and editorial lines were highly critical of the government and senior government officials, various major political parties and the outspoken politicians.

Sarapodamean Kampuchea (SPK)/ Agence Kampuchea Presse (AKP) / Dībhnâkṅār Sārbartamān Kambujā / ទីភ្នាក់ងារសារពត៌មានកម្ពុជា

Soon after its establishment on December 2, 1978, the Kampuchean National Liberation Front (KNLF) established Sarapodamean Kampuchea (SPK), which was known as the Cambodia news agency. Since then, SPK had been operated as a party and government news agency. It mainly served as a political mouthpiece and the main propaganda machine for the Hanoi-backed government against the Democratic Kampuchea (Khmer Rouge) and the other two Khmer factions led by Prince Norodom Sihanouk and Son Sann. SPK published newspapers and daily bulletins that provided coverage for national and international news in various languages include Khmer, English and French. In addition to the local social and economical propaganda, its national news was also reported on and from the battle fields between the Phnom Penh government’s army and the guerilla.

 

It is also important to point out that after the name of this news agency was changed to Agence Khmer de Presse (AKP) or Dībhnâkṅār Sārbartamān Khmaer as read in Khmer language the general election in May 1993 and later in that year. However, it was still operated as the government news agency that was hierarchically and directly administered by the Ministry of Information of the collision government. Later and untill today, the name has been changed to Agence Kampuchea Presse in French and Kampuchea News Agency in English while the Khmer name was back to Dībhnâkṅār Sārbartamān Kambujā. However, AKP is still the official abbreviation for the agency. Some information including the explanation and interpretation of the agency’s logo can be found on the ministry website at http://www.information.gov.kh/english.html and the online publication of AKP in Khmer, English and French can be access through its webpate at http://www.akp.gov.kh/

 

Yale University Library holds some of SPK/AKP bulletins published between 1991 and 1995. Those bulletins were: a) Ṭaṃṇẏṅ paccuppannabhāb (present news), b) Ṭaṃṇẏṅ knoṅ brades niṅ qantarajāti (National and International News); c) Brẏttipătr ṭaṃṇẏṅ knuṅ prades (National News Bulletin); d) Daily Bulletin; and e) Agence Khmer de presse in both Khmer and English.

Sonando News / Sūnáṅtū Bartamān / សូណង់ដូពត៌មាន

Yale University Library holds only one issue of the paper published on November 15, 1999. No further information about the paper was 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. Legally, all papers must have obtained a license from and registered with the Ministry of Information before starting publishing. Therefore, it is believed that Sonando News ceased publication, but the definite date is unknown.

 

According to the available issue in hand, the Sonando News provided coverage for the national news and some international news. The national news was primarily reported on social issues such as robberies, corruption, corrupt court, land issue, and so on. The international news focused on democratic related issues in developed and developing countries.

 

There was no source confirming on the political affiliation of the paper, but Sonan News is part of the Radio 105 FMz that also owned by Sonando Mam. The radio station is widely viewed as an independent station in the country. However, it is worthwhile mentioning that, Mam Sonando was a former president of the Bee Democratic Party during the 1990s and later became the prominent democratic activist in Cambodia. In 2005, he was arrested and jailed after his radio station broadcasted an interview with border expert criticizing border treaty.

 

Sourn Sereyratha has also been democratic activist in Cambodia. He left the country and set up a media (radio station & news bulletin) based in the US to attacking and criticizing the government.

Sovannaphoum News/Sārbartamān Suvaṇṇabhūmi/សារព័ត៌មានសុវណ្ណភូមិ

Sovannaphoum News was one of the earliest papers published during the UNTAC era. “Sovannaphoum” means “the land of gold”, which is commonly referred to Cambodia by Cambodians and some international. Specially, the term was used by the publisher of this paper to represent Cambodia. So, this paper was aimed at speaking for Cambodia or in other word is the voice of Cambodia, the land of gold or the prosperous land. According to those earlier issues, the paper itself stated that its its circulation was 5,000 copies of four page length printed in black and white, but no source confirmed on its frequency. The paper was not also listed on the website of the Ministry of Information as at March 2011. It is very likely that the paper ceased sometime between 1993 and 2011.

 

According to the letter by Prince Norodom Sihanouk, was then head of the supreme national council of Cambodia, in response to the letter of request by the publisher to establish the paper that was published in the earliest issue of the paper indicates that the paper would serve the general public of Cambodia by providing culture, society, science and so on related topics. According to the early issues held by Yale, the paper did not really report the “news”, rather it was filled with an education pieces of history, culture, traditional and custom and a literary section with two novels and a poem.​ There is no source confirmed on its political stand and affiliation, but the paper itself claimed as neutral and non-political affiliated. However, the contents of those earlier issues seemed to weight more on the royalist and especially King Norodom Sihnouk.