Cambodian Journalism Review

In Memory of Reach Sambath, A Great Cambodian Journalist
May 26, 2011, 4:13 am
Filed under: Commentary

In Memory of Reach Sambath, A Great Cambodian Journalist


Reach Sambath poses for a photograph with his journalism students

It was 17 years ago when I traveled to Thailand as a reporter for the Phnom Penh Post to attend the first journalism training organized by the Indochina Media Memorial Foundation.

Since it was the first time for most of the Khmer participants to travel overseas, we were very curious and tried to explore the night life in Bangkok. We ended up at an upstairs nightclub, where a nightmare was waiting for us.

The guards closed the doors and tried to extort money from us.

Luckily, one journalist in our group knew how to negotiate with the guards and we were all allowed to go. And that journalist was nobody other than Reach Sambath, who was then a correspondent for AFP.

In the many years that followed, Sambath had made very good friends with many Cambodian journalists and other foreign correspondents inside and outside Cambodia.

So, we were very heartbroken when we heard the news of his recent stroke and consequent demise, just hours and days after seeing him traveling around.

Sambath is not only a gifted journalist, but he is also a good teacher. As we returned from our training in Bangkok, he continued his reporting work at the French news agency, while trying to improve his professional knowledge and skills at the same time.

He later went to the US to pursue his higher education in journalism. Armed with a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the Columbia University, Sambath began his teaching job at the Cambodia Communication Institute and the Department of Media and Communication of the Royal University of Phnom Penh.

In a country where teachers in journalism were very scarce, Sambath is a treasure for the university and the students. Whether he was teaching in the class or mentoring students or journalists in the field, he reserved no energy to make sure that his knowledge and skills were effectively transferred to his students and colleagues. And he did this with his great talent and sense of humor.

However, as a golden opportunity arrived when the Khmer Rouge Tribunal was opened, Sambath got a job as its spokesman though he managed to teach a few hours a week at the university.

When he was not at school or at the tribunal, Sambath loved to socialize with his media friends and colleagues. He loved to sing and tell jokes and share stories about life and the media in the US with his Cambodian journalists who didn’t have the opportunity to travel outside the country.

Though he has passed away, Sambath has left behind countless memories for all of us. He is one of the pioneers who brought modern journalism skills to Cambodia.

We will always remember and thank him for his great contributions to the Cambodian media. We wish that his soul rest in peace and he be reborn in a happy world.

Moeun Chhean Nariddh


Cambodia Institute for Media Studies


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