Cambodian Journalism Review

A Chronology of Media Events in Cambodia
October 18, 2007, 8:06 am
Filed under: Chronology of Khmer Media

A Chronology of Media Events in Cambodia

1863: Cambodia becomes a French colony.

1935: A literature review called Reatrei Thngay Sao (Saturday Night) is published.

1939: First known Khmer-language newspaper, Nokor Wat, is published in Cambodia by three Khmer nationalists: Pach Chheun, Sim Var, and Son Ngoc Thanh.

1942: Nokor Wat is confiscated by the French who accuse the newspaper of being ultra-nationalist. Pach Chheun is arrested and Son Ngoc Thanh flees to Thailand, then to Japan.

1945: Son Ngoc Thanh returns to Cambodia and resumes the publication of Nokor Wat when Cambodia was under a short occupation by the Japanese army.

1947: First Cambodian Constitution is adopted; the press is freer and more newspapers are published.

1951: The Khmer News Agency is established and prints news bulletins in Khmer, French, and English with around 2,000 subscribers.

1952: Son Ngoc Thanh publishes another newspaper called Khmer Kraok (Khmer Rise), but the paper is closed down a month later for its strong opinions intended to reform Khmer political system.

1953: Cambodia becomes independent from France.

March 3, 1955: King Norodom Sihanouk abdicates the throne and establishes the Sangkum Reastr Niyum Party three days later. Many pro-Sangkum Reastr Niyum newspapers and magazines are published.

April 1, 1955: An underground newspaper called Pracheachun (The People) is published, disseminating communist propaganda.

June 20, 1955: Pol Pot’s brother, Salot Chhay, publishes Samaki (Solidarity) newspaper.

January 1, 1959: Sam Rainsy’s father, Sam Sary, publishes Reastra Thipatei (People’s Democracy) following his dispute with Head of State Norodom Sihanouk.

September 22, 1959: Khieu Samphan publishes French-language newspaper L’Observateur, which criticizes the conservative group.

October 11, 1959: Nob Bophan, editor of Pracheachun newspaper, is gunned down in Phnom Penh

1965: A monthly news bulletin of Samdech Norodom Sihanouk, Les paroles de S.P.N. Sihanouk called B.M.D. (Bulletin Mensuel de Documentation) is published by the Cabinet of the Royal Palace.

September 11, 1966: Samdech Sihanouk establishes a bilingual Khmer-French bulletin to criticize the government.

1967: Sim Var publishes Khmer Ekareach (Khmer Independence) newspaper, which is critical of Samdech Sihanouk.

1967: Nouth Chhoeum, Chief of Samdech Norodom Sihanouk’s Cabinet, publishes Sochivathor (Morality) newspaper. With sales of 11,000 per issue, the paper is a best seller partly because of its pornographic stories.

1969: Sim Var’s nephew, Soth Polin, publishes Nokor Thom (Big City) newspaper with a pro-republican editorial line.

1970: Koh Santepheap (Island of Peace) newspaper is published by Sou Sorn, Nouth Chhoeum, and Chou Thany.

March 18, 1970: Norodom Sihanouk is ousted by Lon Nol in a coup. About 30 newspapers are in circulation.

December 29, 1970: Lon Nol Administration imposes pre-publication censorship on newspapers, ending freedom of the press. Many newspapers are shut down during this time.

April 23, 1973: Martial law is declared, followed by threats and attacks on journalists. Soth Polin’s car is exploded by a timed bomb, but he survives the attack.

1975: Cambodia falls to the Khmer Rouge. Nearly 1.7 million Cambodians die. No private media are available except an Angkar-owned magazine and radio station that broadcast communist slogans. The Khmer Rouge publishes three magazines, including Tung Padevath (The Revolutionary Flag), Tung Krahorm (The Red Flag), Yuvachun-Yuvaneary Padevath (Revolutionary Youth), and a picture magazine. These magazines are read by the Khmer Rouge cadre.

December 2, 1978: The Vietnamese-backed Kampuchean National Liberation Front (KNLF) is established in Snuol district, Kratie province, on the border with Vietnam. KLNF establishes the Khmer News Agency (SPK) and a radio station.

January 7, 1979: The Khmer Rouge is overthrown by invading Vietnamese army. Cambodia becomes a communist country.

January 25, 1979: Kampuchea, KNLF’s newspaper, publishes its first issue with a circulation of 5,000. The circulation rises to 500,000; it is distributed among the communist cadre free of charge. Three other newspapers were published, including Kangtaop Padevath (Revolutionary Army) in December 1979, Phnom Penh in February 1981, and Pracheachun (People) in October 1985. Many newspapers are also published by the organs of the communist party.

January 1992: Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party publishes a weekly Khmer People’s National Liberation Front bulletin, which is against the Cambodian People’s Party and the Vietnamese.

1992: UNTAC Penal Code is established, making defamation a criminal violation punishable by jail sentence.

October 1992: The FUNCINPEC Party publishes Samleng Yuvachun Khmer (Voice of the Khmer Youth).

Late 1992: UNTAC establishes UNTAC radio and Free Choice newspaper. The radio station and the newspaper are shut down following the elections.

July 1992: The first independent English-language newspaper, The Phnom Penh Post, is published fortnightly by an American couple. Another English newspaper, The Cambodia Times, is published by a Malaysian journalist the same year. The Times then publishes its Khmer edition, but both the English and Khmer versions are later closed down due to bankruptcy.

1993: Another independent English-language newspaper, The Cambodia Daily, is published, also by a veteran American journalist.

January 1993: Koh Santepheap newspaper is republished by former reporter Thong Uy Pang after it was closed down nearly 20 years before, when the Khmer Rouge came to power.

April 1993: Reasmei Kampuchea (Light of Cambodia) newspaper is published. Reasmei is one of the largest, most popular newspapers in Cambodia. Many other newspapers are published around that time, but are later closed down for financial reasons.

1993: Constitution provides for freedom of the press, and journalists, in theory, should be able to obtain information legally.

1995: Press Law is passed with controversial Article 12, stating: “the employer, editor or author of the article may be subjected to a fine of 5,000,000 to 15,000,000 riel [$1,282 to $3,846], without taking into account possible punishment under the criminal law.” Article 13 directs that the press shall not publish or reproduce false information that humiliates or is in contempt of national institutions. (The law is vague and leaves much room for government authorities to interpret it at their whim to silence journalists and news organizations.)

May 18, 1996: Thun Bun Ly, the editor of Uddom Gati Khmer, is shot dead near his home in Phnom Penh. His death is believed to be politically motivated.

March 30, 1997: Chet Duong Daravuth, a journalist for opposition Neak Proyuth (Fighter) newspaper, is killed in grenade attack.

May 5, 1997: Pech Em, a journalist for a TV station in Sihanoukville, is killed and a B40 rocket is fired into the station for airing controversial news.

July 1997: Many opposition journalists go into hiding as factional fighting sweeps through nation. Opposition papers are not published for three months due to threats and intimidation. Foreign journalists are also threatened and two were banned from the country for writ­ing stories critical of the government and writing about corruption in the govern­ment.

June 8, 1998: Thong Uy Pang, the publisher and editor-in-chief of Koh Santepheap, is shot and wounded at a temple near Phnom Penh. Koh Santepheap accused “powerful politicians in the present government” of being behind the attack.

October 18, 2003: Chuor Chetharith, a journalist for the pro-FUNCINPEC Ta Prohm Radio FM 90.5, is gunned down in front of his office in Phnom Penh. His murder followed the station’s broadcast of critical comments against the government.

October 11, 2005: Mam Sonando, 64, Director Beehive Radio FM 105, is arrested for broad­casting an interview with a border expert criticizing the border treaty. He is accused of criticizing the government.

December 2, 2005: Journalist Hang Sokhan, editor of occasional newspaper Ponleu Samaki, is arrested over an article exposing corruption in a land dispute case where it was alleged that the state prosecutor Ven Yoeun accepted bribes. Yoeun files a criminal defamation suit against the newspaper.

January 4, 2006: Pa Ngoun Tieng, a producer at “Voice of America” and deputy for Kem Sokha, is arrested at the Lao border after his boss and Yeng Virak, Executive Director of Community Legal Education Center (CLEC), are arrested as part of a government crackdown on dissent.

2006: Anti-corruption law is in draft form and en route to being passed into law. The draft law includes some stipulations for access to information and public records.



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