Propaganda, Politics, and Violence in Cambodia: Democratic Transition under United Nations Peace-Keeping

By Steve Heder; Judy Ledgerwood | Go to book overview

the relentless diet of propaganda and violence. Marston recounts the history and organization of SOC, FUNCINPEC, KPNLF/BLDP, and PDK media and describes how they continued to function and to some extent develop under UNTAC. He goes on to convey the sense of excitement that came with the eclipsing of their hackneyed formats and their drumbeat of militant messages by the emergence of independent media. Marston stresses the degree to which the independence of the new media was subject to constraints. The new media were tied to and sometimes cowed by existing political forces, especially SOC, or were beholden to foreign financial interests, or both. Many of the new media organs were no more politically neutral or true to factual reality than the old party press. Nevertheless, Marston stresses, the very fact that media outlets could exist that were not formally tied to the state or a political party created a new political economy of what could and could not be stated in public.

Marston identifies several phases in the evolution of the Cambodian media. In the year or so after the signing of the Paris Agreements, SOC media found their monopoly challenged in Phnom Penh by the BLDP, FUNCINPEC, and small parties. Then, starting in early 1993, the range of media options suddenly increased with the emergence of the independent media. From then until the time of the elections, and in their immediate aftermath, the new media mushroomed. Marston then describes the gradual process whereby the relationship of the media to the new government began to be defined. In part, this meant that the new government began to exert its authority. It meant that people began to struggle with the issue of the media in relationship to the king. It meant that people began to search for ways to define the media in law. And it meant the emergence of a new journalists' association and the attendant potential empowerment of the media. Marston's chapter suggests that the road toward the emergence of media that can report on the country's politics without fear or favor is going to be very long and rocky, but he does not rule out the possibility that it will eventually be traveled.


Notes
1.
David P. Chandler, The Tragedy of Cambodian History: Politics, War, and Revolution Since 1945 ( New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991). Much of what is contained in the historical thumbnail sketch below can be derived from this

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