Cambodian Journalism Review

Press Freedom Victim of School Renovation
October 21, 2007, 9:22 am
Filed under: Khmer Press





Press Freedom Victim of School Renovation

by Moeun Chhean Nariddh



ongratulations on the inauguration of Wat Phnom School, which has been renamed Hun Sen Bun Rany Wat Phnom School following its renovation funded by the prime minister.

Nostalgia can be felt in the hearts of former students and conservations who prefer the school be known by its original name. Yet, everything comes at a cost. But, the restoration of Wat Phnom School costs more than money.

With little notice, the renovation comes at the cost of press freedom. Recently, all the newsstands in front of the school were cleared. Vendors now have to sell newspapers on bicycles or motorbikes and run from one place to another to escape from the police.

Of course, freedom of the press includes freedom of distribution. If we cannot freely distribute or sell newspapers, freedom of the press has no meaning. The banning of newsstands in font of Hun Sen Bun Rany Wat Phnom School is also an insult to the prime minister himself, who once upon a time was described as “Champion of Democracy.”

But newspaper vendors at Hun Sen Bun Rany Wat Phnom School are not the only victims of the city’s beautification campaign. Vendors throughout Phnom Penh are also prohibited from displaying their newspapers on many of best selling sidewalks.

Nevertheless, it’s not unusual to sell newspapers on the streets, even in the big cities in Western countries. The sight of such a product of press freedom is actually an indicator of the health of democracy in a country.

Until vendors are allowed to sell newspapers on the sidewalks, where it is most convenient for buyers, our democracy is not yet a real democracy. Instead, it can be called “Democracy on the Run.”


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