Monthly Archives: May 2011

I’ve just lost my beloved editor, Colin Meyn – part one

It might be a surprise for LIFT fans to know that our editor, Colin Meyn, has just resigned from his work after finishing his contract with the Phnom Penh Post. However, I’d better not say that he resigned because he told me that he could not renew his contract though he still loves working there.

It’s a bit hard for me to accept this fact because I always appreciate his contribution to LIFT and I’d say that “without Colin is without LIFT today”. I dare to say that no one else know well about the development and improvement of LIFT magazine besides from Colin Meyn, Tivea Koam, and me because we used to work with each other very closely and conduct plenty of meetings to improve our magazine quality.

LIFT magazine is an educational supplement of the Phnom Penh Post for Cambodian youth. 1st issue of LIFT  was published on January 6, 2009, and so far, there are 72 issues of LIFT.

This post is written to remind me of good memories I have with my beloved editor, to address his involvement in LIFT, and also my contribution to this magazine. Hope to receive some comments from my dear readers after you guys finish reading this opinion piece…

My involvement  in LIFT magazine

My editor and I when joining barcamp 2010

My editor and I when joining barcamp 2010

June 2, 2010 is the first time I had chance to have an article published in LIFT magazine, but actually, I have involved in LIFT a bit early than that by joining its’ weekly newsroom meeting.

I can still remember that at that time, I don’t know much about how to write an article so I made a lot of mistakes in writing and Colin edited most of what I’ve sent to him. I was only a normal contributor to LIFT and in some issues, I didn’t even have my name in writers and reporters list. I used to be very disappointed once and a bit envy with some of my friends who had their names published at that time, so I sent a short mail to Colin saying that I will struggle to get my name in the list and you know what his reply is? He said that it’s just my beginning and if I keep holding this commitment, he assured that one day, my name will appear on the list.

From that day, I’ve committed to get byline by working hard, and trying to improve my writing and professionalism. Every single idea I came up, I would raise it to Colin to get some suggestions from him.

If I’m not wrong, about 3 weeks later, I got my name published on LIFT magazine. I was very happy at that time, and I guess this feeling is true for every reporter who has their article published for the first time.  I bought a copy of it to keep until today and even called to my mum in Kampot province to buy a newspaper because her son’s name was on it.

I keep doing my best for LIFT and as a result, a few months later Tivea and I were promoted to be deputy editors, so we start working to help other writers producing good stories by giving them suggestions to their story angles as well as commenting on their writings.

At that time, I was doing my internship with Agence-France Presse (AFP), so I was very happy since I can use what I’ve learnt from an international news agency to help improving LIFT magazine. I have tried my best to contribute to LIFT and have received a lot of feedbacks from Colin in term of writing, interviewing, and organizing a magazine. I even learn some layout design from him. That’s when I know a lot about complex structures in a newsroom.

Later, Tivea and I start having our name put into senior writers list, so it means that we are eligible to write opinion piece in Constructive Cambodian section. So far, I’ve written two of them: Why traffic jam exists in Cambodia? and Getting passport in Cambodia.

Now, I am still a senior writer for LIFT magazine, but I don’t know what the future is. I believe that some structures will be changed after Colin left; however, I am still happy to contribute what I’ve if they still need me.

Please stay tune because I have two more points to write about: Colin Meyn involvement in developing LIFT magazine + My memories with my beloved editor… I’m thinking of updating this post or create another post for these two points… Thanks for reading my opinion piece...

By: Dara Saoyuth

Photos for remembering our friendship

Spending almost 3 years with DMC batch 08, I feel that I’ve learnt a lot more than acquiring new knowledge from our beloved lecturers but also learn to know the meaning of truly friendship.

Currently, we have 19 members in the batch including one that just finished his exchange program in the United State. But…the other six people including me will leave soon for their international internship. And after finishing the internship, two among the six people will leave all of us for learning in Italy for another 6 months.

Looking from outside, this is such a great opportunity to have chance going abroad and of course it is. However, if we talk about emotion, you might understand how we goona miss each other so much…

We have been to many places and enjoyed a lot of great time together…

To keep this feeling inside, I’ve decided to create some photo albums and post plenty of photos on my Facebook account, so please check it out!

1. Study Tour to Siem Reap (20-23 May, 2010)

2. First launching of KON magazine (15 October, 2010)

3. Our Trip to Chambok Resort (20 November, 2010)

By: Dara Saoyuth

Young and Married

Everyone seems to agree that Cambodia needs to modernise in one way or another, so why does the institution of marriage often seem to be the exception?

Cambodia is developing, however, early marriage, which means marriage before the age of 18 is still prevalent in the kingdom.

Sambo Manara, a History professor and deputy director of the History department at the Royal University of Phnom Penh says that early marriage is not just something that happens in the present day. He says that  early marriages often happened when there was a need to increase the birth rate, especially during and after war. He gave the example of the post-Khmer Rouge regime period, when a lot of people had lost family members, so they tried to build up their families again by marrying.

Even though there is no more war within the country, 25 percent of women aged 20-24 inCambodiawere married before the age of 18, according to a publication from UNICEF published in 2005. The fear that their husbands might pass away before them is a factor raised by Sambo Manara to answer to the question why there are still couple marriage at young age.

“According to data from World Health Organization in 2009, Cambodian men can live around 58 years, so women think that they have to marriage early; otherwise, their husbands will not have enough time to educate their children, as well as take responsibility in bringing up the family,” said Sambo Manara.

Under the Cambodian Trafficking Law, article 36 says the penalty for anyone convicted of sex with a minor (under 15 years of age) is between five to ten years imprisonment. “From 16 to under 18, they can get married if their parents agree, and if they are over 18, they can marry freely,” says Executive Director of Cambodian Defenders Project Sok Sam Oeun, adding that they can file a complaint to the court if their parents do not allow them to get married once they are over 18.

Even though it is legally possible to get married in your teens, some advocate waiting until you are older.

Khut Khemrin, a doctor and clinical service manager at Marie Stopes International said that most health problems related to early marriage usually concern women. He said “women at the age of 18 years or under18, have organs which are still developing, so it might cause some problems, especially during delivery of a baby if they are pregnant at these ages”.

“One more thing is that Cambodian women, especially those living in countryside don’t have much knowledge regarding reproductive health, so they don’t know how to prevent unwanted baby, and they also don’t know how to take care of their foetus when they pregnant,” said Khut Khemrin.

He suggested that it’s a good idea for young couples to practice birth spacing until they reach the ages of having a safe pregnancy. “They can discuss with each other when they want to get children, so we can introduce them to the variety of ways of contraceptive methods since different methods have different results that can prevent you from having children for 3 years, 5 years or up to 10 years. The choice is yours,” said Khut Khmerin.

Having physical problems is one thing, but another thing is that a couple who marry early can easily break up their relationship or suffer domestic violence.

Chhoun Tray, a vice director at the Department of Psychology at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, said that at these ages people cannot control themselves effectively, so they easily get angry. “Sometimes, people are just angry at an everyday word and that can lead to a break up in a relationship,” said Chhoun Tray.

Ek Monosen, a talk show host for Radio FM 102 and vice rector at Human Resources University, said that the best way to prevent break ups of young couples is not to allow them to marry at young ages because then they don’t have much education and are not yet ready to be a father or mother.

However, he suggested that it can be alright for women to marry at these ages and not have problem in relationship if they choose to marry with a man who is older than her because a woman tends to listen and follow what someone older than her says.

But he said the husband should not be older than his wife than nine years because it will be more difficult if the gap is too much. Ek Monosen said that if a woman marries a husband who is more than 20 years older, it’s hard for them to get on with each other because when a wife wants to go to the cinema, a husband wants to go to pagoda.

Another concern a young couple has to think about before getting married is the future of their children. Sambo Manara said that children of young couples are most likely become dysfunctional because their parents don’t have enough capacity to educate them. “If they marry at the age of 15, 16, or 17, they themselves haven’t finished high school, so how can they use their knowledge to teach their children?,” said Sambo Manara.

Ek Monosen said there are four factors that will affect people’s future: family, social situation, education, and personality. He added that a couple will be happy if the above four elements are in harmony.

By: Dara Saoyuth
Additional reporting by: Touch Yin Vannith
This article was published on LIFT, Issue 71 published on May 18, 2011

Cultural Relativism Impedes Human Right Promotion

The Second World War marked the most horrified period which was remembered every time by European as well as people around the world. At that time, millions of people were killed and regardless of their right. Nevertheless, since the end of such world war, the world especially the United Nation Organization has turned to pay more attention on human right issues and even regarded it as the main core concern in its actions. However, serious human right violation took place everywhere, for example ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Kosovo, widespread and deliberately provoked famine in Somalia, genocide in Rwanda, and systematic discrimination against women by the Taliban in Afghanistan (Mingst and Karns, 2000). To respond to these profound problems, the passage of “the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” has been adopted by the General Assembly on December 10, 1948. The aim of the Universal Declaration of Human Right is to give the complete right to the individuals. In other words, every individual has the right to life, liberty and security, freedom of thought, conversation and religion, freedom of opinion and expression and so forth. Regardless of their races, languages, religion and etc, people have the right to do whatever they want with the respect to others. But then there come a question that does every person really can exercise their right as he or she wants? As we know, in Asian countries, people are justified with their cultures which sometimes down play the importance of human rights. This controversy, then, brought the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Cultural Relativism into a serious debate.

While the Universal Declaration of Human Right tries to globalize human rights by giving the equality to every individual, Cultural Relativism argues that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is imposing them to the Western values. And such Western value is way too far different from Asian value that Asia can’t find the way to accept it. For instance, Muslim women are supposed to wear mask most of the time. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Right, women, of course, can take off the mask whenever they want because they have their rights to decide how they dress and wear. But in the view of Cultural Relativism, women who do not wear mask show the sign of disrespect to their culture and religion. Or we can say that they want to break away from Muslim society. Moreover, in Asian culture, women are supposed to obey their parents; they have to listen and take their parents’ advices. Differently, European children can deny doing so when they reach 18 years old. This no boundary of right of European can lead women in Asian to lose sign of their morality and the status as women in Asian culture. So Cultural Relativism thought that the Universal Declaration of Human Right creates chaos in Asian society.

In addition, Cultural Relativism argues that the Universal Declaration of Human Right tries to promote democracy rather than human right. And some countries especially Malaysia cannot adopt democracy as it model governmental system because there are so many different ethnic groups inside Malaysia. And If Malaysia turns to adopt democracy and forgo the system of Federal Constitutional Monarchy as it is today, the whole Malaysia will break into pieces. As we know, giving the complete right to all those ethnic groups, it will serve as the motivation for them to get up and revolve against the government of Malaysia because no one would like to live in the lower status than the others at all. As a result, anarchy will be unavoidable. So in order to prevent that to happen, absolute right should not be given to the individuals according to Cultural Relativist view.

Not only that, Cultural Relativism claimed that the Universal Declaration of Human Right tries to intervene into their domestic affairs. It just uses humanitarian intervention as the springboard to get involved with internal issues of some countries and weaken those countries’ sovereignty, for example in the case of Burma. The United Nation wanted Burmese government to release Aung San Suu Kyi who was a political prisoner of Burma. This action of the United Nation was regarded by Burmese government as the domestic intervention. The government of Burma thought that the real purpose of the United Nation was to enter to Burmese politic and promote democracy only.

The Cultural Relativism also raised up a point that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is putting all its effort to promote civil-political right without even know that what it should do is to focus on social, economical and cultural right. Everyone knows that most of Asian countries are developing countries, so it is impossible for civil-political right to be promoted in such an unstable condition. People are having a hard time trying to survive; therefore, what they wish for is the help for food and the improvement of social status not the right of civil-politic. Thus, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights should take action to reduce poverty and improve the economic in those developing countries first before turning back to the promotion of the civil-political right.

In conclusion, human right isn’t yet practically globalized although it is claimed to be so by the liberal doctrine of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The reason is that whenever the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is raised as the topic, the Cultural Relativism will accompany it and block its ideas. With the reality showed by the Cultural Relativism, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will always remain a wish to give the full right to every individual internationally.


–          Mingst, K. A. & Karns, M. P. (2000). The united nations in the post-cold war era

(2nd ed.). US: Westview Press.


Sovinna Som

Written by: Sovinna Som
Sovinna Som is a fan of and a contributor to Student Blog. She is currently a sophomore at Institute of Foreign Languages (IFL).
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Cultural Relativism Impedes Human Right Promotion by Som Sovinna is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


I miss my beloved teacher, Reach Sambath

Dear all student blog visitors,

I don’t have feeling to do anything tonight after hearing that my teacher, Reach Sambath, has just passed away. I do miss him. A lot of memories are still in my head, but I cannot express it now. I just post some photos of the time we were with him.

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Dara Saoyuth

Constructive Cambodia: Getting Passport in Cambodia

A few weeks ago, our constructive Cambodian wrote about the importance of travel for a person understanding of the world and themselves. In this week’s column Dara Saoyuth raises his concerns about the costliness of obtaining a passport in Cambodia and the opportunities and experiences that are being prevented by it

Non-citizen, diplomatic, travel document, and other types of passport

Non-citizen, diplomatic, travel document, and other types of passport / Image via Wikipedia

It is not just a small book with some letters, stamps, and signatures in it, a passport is the official document that identifies you as a citizen of a particular country and, more importantly, allows you to enjoy the benefits and excitements of international travel. In sort, you can’t leave your country without it.

People don’t just need it to travel, every day people must leave their countries to work abroad, pursue their studies, join meetings, conduct business, seek medical treatment and so on.

There are three types of passports: standard, official, and diplomatic. Official passports are reserved for government employees and diplomatic passport is for those people working in diplomatic capacity for a country. So most people will be seeking a standard passport.

In order to travel, most places require that you have 6 months validity remaining on your passport. In Cambodia a passport is issued with three years of validity and the option of extending twice for two years each time, so seven years in all.

Despite the importance of travel for so many people within a modern country, very few Cambodians have ever acquired a passport. It is simply too expensive, and most people don’t even consider it. I must admit that even as a student in Phnom Penh from a more-or-less middle class family, I never considered getting a passport tin my hand until I received a scholarship earlier this year to study abroad in Malaysia. I didn’t even consider at first that I would need a passport to leave the country.

However, with the experience of procuring a passport now under my belt, I can say with certainty that obtaining a passport as a Cambodian citizen in a prohibitively expensive, time consuming and laborious process.

The first step is a trip to passport department to fill out the passport application form and give them a number of important documents that prove your Cambodian nationality, including your family record book, your birth certificate, and your identity card. When I got to the passport office, which was about the same size as a normal house, I was shocked to see about 100 people packed inside.

When I went to the ministry we site to get details on how to navigate the passport process, I found nothing, so I went to a travel agent who proved a much more valuable resource. Eventually I got in touch with an official from the passport agency, who was also helpful.

One thing I learned through these two conversations was that the price of a passport and the waiting time seems to vary depending on who you are and who you ask.

The person from travel agency told me that there are three types of passport pricing: if you pay $136, you have to wait around 50 to 60 days to get your passport, pay $180 and you can get it within three weeks. If you are really in a rush to get going, you can pay $219 to get it within a week.

However, the person from the passport department told me that it would cost $135 if I waited for 60 days, $220 within a week. Not a huge difference, admittedly, but enough to show a lack of standardisation (also, you would think the slight price hike would be at the travel agency, not the government office).

Considering the financial state of your average Cambodian, more than $100 is enough to keep people from considering a passport, and more than $200 is out of reach of just about anybody who is wealthy.

If we look at our neighbouring countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos, we can see the price is dramatically different. According to a Cambodia Country Study published in 2009 by the Cambodia Development Resource Institute (CDRI), the passport fee is only $12 in Vietnam, $30 in Thailand and $35 in Laos.

Every year there are a lot of people who go outside the country to work as migrant workers to get money to support their families in Cambodia, and it was recognised by civil service organisation, and eventually the government that the high price of passports was preventing these workers, often some of the poorest people in Cambodia, to illegally exit the country, leaving themselves vulnerable to abuse and legal problems.

According to the previously mentioned report by CDRI, the Kingdom’s Prime Minister ordered the Ministry of Interior to make passports free, or as cheap as possible, for migrant workers. The cost dropped to around $45 for migrants who are patient enough to go through the formal process.

The report recommended that “the total fee should be $50 for migrant workers and other citizens ($40 official fee and $10 unofficial fee, assuming that it is impractical to eliminate unofficial fees)”.

One more point I’d like to point out is that the passport process in Cambodia is painfully slow, even compared to other countries. In Cambodia, the best you can hope for, without paying an arm and a leg, is three weeks to get your passport made, while in Thailand and Vietnam it is issued in three to five working days.

Arrived at the place, I was surprised to see more than a hundred of people packed together into a building which is the same size as a normal house. My decision to hire the services of travel agent proved fruitful as I was ushered through the crown and emerged having submitted my application within 15 minutes.

So, until the passport office gets its act together, go through a travel agent. Otherwise, you may be waiting a while.

By: Dara Saoyuth
This article was publish on LIFT, Issue 70 published on May 11, 2011

My first guitar lesson

My guitar

My guitar / by: Dara Saoyuth

Having bought a guitar for almost two weeks, I still cannot play even just a song. At first, I think that it’s an easy thing that anyone can learn by just watching some video tutorials on YouTube and some E-learning software. However, it’s not that easy. I’ve spent a few hours watching E-learning software on my computer, but I still cannot catch up with what they are teaching.

Because of this, I’ve decided to take up a guitar course at Sinsisamoth Association, where I can learn from the son of my favorite and long-lasting famous Cambodian singer, Sinsisamoth.

I started my course last Sunday with around 10 people in a class. I was fascinated by my classroom design which I can see photos of famous signers during 1960s and 1970s plus different musical instruments around me.

I study from 9amto 12pm — 90minutes for learning music notes and other 90minutes for instrument practice.

I really want to be able to play it as soon as possible but my teacher said at least students have to study for 3 months to be able to play and they can continue the course if they want to know more about how to read musical note as well as writing it.

Another Sunday is upcoming, so I have to practice what my teacher has taught me; otherwise, i won’t be able to proceed the next lesson.

If any of you also has the same interest as me or knows how to play a guitar or other musical instrument, please kindly share your experience here. I believe that the other visitors as well as me would be happy to read your experience sharing.

By: Dara Saoyuth

Plugging the brain drain

Profile of Cambodian youth who is fighting the trend toward the city and making a difference, despite the difficulties in the provincial parts of the Kingdom

Upon leaving his homeland in Takeo province in 2007, Kim Bora began vocational training in the electronics field at the Centre Kram Ngoy (CKN). When he completed his final exam, he was just as quick to set his sites on a career in the countryside and within two days he was in Kampong Cham, where he continues to work today and hopes to raise his family.

The 27-year-old Kim Bora works for the Electricity Tboung Khmum Enterprise as a manager of their branch in Ou Reang Ov district in Kampong Cham.

He is tasked with not only ensuring the distribution of electricity to the people in the community he lives in, but also must ensure that his neighbours, and other customers, pay their bills on time.

“Electricity is very important in people daily life,” he said. “However, in some areas connections are still difficult and I often receive complaints that car batteries are much more expensive.”

Kim Bora admits that he has much work left unfinished, he is also proud of the accomplishments he has made. He said that so far, he and his team has equipped around 30,000 households with electricity and around 30,000 more households will be connected shortly.

Although Kim Bora moved swiftly to the province he currently lives in, he remembers the difficulties of settling in vividly. “At first, I didn’t have any friends and I felt very homesick,” he said.

But he remained persistent and after sticking it out for a while, he got used to the environment and everything has now reached a point where he feels very comfortable in his surroundings.

When asked about his future plans, he said he that he no longer considers taking a job in the city or making a return to his hometown. Why? you might ask. Well, that has nothing to do electric connections.

He fell in love with a woman while he was negotiating life in Kampong Cham and they want to stay right there to start a family together.

By: Dara Saoyuth
This article was publish on LIFT, Issue 69 published on May 05, 2011

21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers

This is a short video clip produced by DMC year 3 students for showing in the World Press Freedom Day 2011.


Posted By: Dara Saoyuth

Yahoo! Mail is upgrading: What it means for you

I’ve just received an E-mail from yahoo! Mail Team informing and suggesting me to upgrade from current version of my yahoo account to the latest version. From this mail, I’ve also realized that I’ve been a fan of yahoo for five years already.:D

Since I like testing new things, I can’t wait until five months later to use the final version. Now, I’m using beta of the latest version, and I’ve found some more interesting features there.

I’ve put the original mail I got, and I’ve capture the screen before and after updating so that you can see some changes for your consideration of changing your current version or not… Cheers,

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Dear Dara saoyuth,Thank you for being a Yahoo! Mail user for the past 5 year(s). We look forward to bringing you a faster, safer, and friendlier Yahoo! Mail soon.

In the coming months, we will invite you to upgrade your account dara_saoyuth@yahoo.comto the newest version of Yahoo! Mail. All Yahoo! Mail users will be invited to upgrade. If do you not wish to wait, you can have the newest Yahoo! Mail today.

Upgrade Now

What You Can Look Forward To

• Faster email

• Latest Yahoo! Mail spam-protection technology

• Friendlier design

• Unlimited email storage to keep everything you want

Learn more about the newest version of Yahoo! Mail. When you upgrade to the newest version of Yahoo! Mail, everything in your account (messages, folders, contacts, etc.) will be there.

You Can Upgrade TodayYou can upgrade now to the newest Yahoo! Mail if your browser is Internet Explorer 7, Firefox 3, Safari 4, or Chrome 5, or newer.

Upgrade Now

If you do not have any of these browsers, you must first update your browser (it’s fast and free), and then return to this email and click the Upgrade Now button.

If you don’t upgrade now, we recommend that you do it soon. Your current version of Yahoo! Mail will be available for the next few months, but you will eventually need to upgrade it to the newest version of Yahoo! Mail, or review Yahoo! Mail Help for other options.

Thank you for being a loyal Yahoo! Mail user.

We hope you will enjoy the newest version of Yahoo! Mail.

Yahoo! Mail Team

By: Dara Saoyuth

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Yahoo! Mail is upgrading: What it means for you by DARA Saoyuth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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