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

By Steve Heder; Judy Ledgerwood | Go to book overview
becoming more and more endangered. Such incidents include:
the March 1994 bombing of the office of the newspaper Antarakum (Intervention)
the confiscation by police of the 17 May issue of Sakâl
the banning of Prum Bayon on 7 June
the unexplained death of the editor of Antarakum on 11 June
the rearrest of Ngoun Noun on 8 July in connection with articles about an attempted coup (this time he was imprisoned for a month)
the letter of 11 July from the minister of information to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court asking it to investigate whether the newspapers Sakâl and Kolbot Angkor were "badly affecting social order and national security"
the 7 September assassination in broad daylight of the editor of Samleng Yuvachun Khmaer
the 8 December drive-by shooting death of Kâh Sântepheap reporter Chan Dara.

While plainly the political divisions underlying the situation were becoming increasingly impossible to ignore, such incidents were an extreme result of the ongoing negotiations regarding the role of independent media in the new political order.


Conclusions

Although it is evident that transformations have taken place in the Cambodian media, and we can chart the progress of many of the changes, it is not easy to say where these changes are taking it. Clearly the Phnom Penh media are no longer socialist but now function in relation to a free-market economy, although they do not operate like those in most Western countries. There is no longer a geographical division between the Phnom Penh media and a media of resistance. It is, in fact, increasingly difficult to distinguish a media of resistance as opposed to a media of the established power structure. Conflict within the media now occurs across complex, shifting fault lines. It is not necessarily helpful to think of the media as evolving toward an ideal of "democratization," although it is true that Western models of a "democratic" media have influenced some journalists and government officials. It is probably more accurate to say that developments in the media are part of the larger process whereby the country seeks ways to function in relation with ASEAN countries and with the West.

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