Cambodian Journalism Review

Cambodian Journalists Face New Challenge at National Assembly
October 25, 2007, 9:56 am
Filed under: Khmer Press

Cambodian Journalists Face New Challenge at National Assembly

by Moeun Chhean Nariddh

Cambodian journalists who report on the parliamentary meetings have complained about the lack of proper seating for reporters at the new National Assembly building.

“They spent a lot of money for the building, but they could not afford to pay for chairs,” Chum Sophal, deputy editor-in-chief for Samne Thmey newspaper, was quoted by the Cambodia Daily on October 23.

Cambodian People Party’s lawmaker Cheam Yeap, who is in charge of the construction of the $29 million-dollar National Assembly, told the Cambodia Daily that the Assembly was working to complete an air-conditioned press room for journalists who could spend up to 20 hours per week following the Assembly debates.

However, the shortage of appropriate seats at the National Assembly is just a small challenge facing local journalists. Cambodian reporters are still confronting many other obstacles, including discrimination, low salaries, a lack of means for professional reporting, intimidation and threats.

Many journalists from smaller newspapers, particularly those aligned with the opposition party, have said they were frequently barred from covering some government institutions.

Pok Mary, reporter from the Phnom Penh Presse newspaper, said her requests for interviews at the Ministry for Social Actions and Veterans’ Affairs had been denied. She said at the front door, there was a sign forbidding journalists from other newspapers to enter the compound except for “Reasmey Kampuchea, Kampuchea Thmei and Koh Santepheap,” the three largest Khmer-language dailies.

Sem Saroeun, who writes for the New Millennium newspaper, said he had been sent from one office to another at the Phnom Penh Police Department when he was trying to ask for documents on water transportation.

Meng Chantheary, reporter for the Voice of Democracy Radio, agrees. She said she also had difficulties trying to get comments from some government officials for her stories.

“They usually say they are busy [and switch off the phone],” she said, adding that such denial had made her stories “incomplete.”

She said among sources who were cooperative with journalists are civil society groups, ordinary people and students.

So Sophy, from the National Radio FM96Mz, said his main challenges are a low salary and poor language skills that prevent him from talking to English-speaking sources and searching documents on the Internet.


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