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Invitation to the press conference launch of documentary


To whom it may concern:

Department of Media and Communication of Royal University of Phnom Penh is pleased to invite all the press and related institutions to the press conference on the launching of our students’ production of documentaries titled “Until Now.”

The press conference will be conducted on Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 9am in the Department of Media and Communication with the honor present of H.E. Khieu Kanharith, Minister of Ministry of Information.

Please find the attached press releases in Khmer and English for more information.

Media Advisory

What:  Release of new video documentary “Until Now: Outgrowing the Shadow of Democratic Kampuchea.”

When:  Wednesday, 22 June 2011, 9:00am

Where:  Department of Media & Communication, RUPP (IFL Campus)

Who:   Filmmakers from the Department of Media & Communication and distinguished panel speakers.

For more information please contact Mr. Dara Saoyuth
Mobile: 012 832 008
Email: dara_saoyuth@yahoo.com

P.S. Please confirm if you can come.

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Can Cambodian TV news be trusted?


Cover of LIFT Issue 53

Cover of LIFT Issue 53

According to a census taken of Cambodia’s population in 2008, 58.41 percent of households own at least one television set. News programmes are what every station cannot do without. Cambodia’s television stations present a variety of both national and international news to their audiences and also produce some other programmes including live reports and news analysis.

Huot Kheangveng, the deputy general director of the Bayon station which is owned by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s daughter, said his station tries to cater to its audience’s needs, adding that the audience likes news which impacts their lives and is a bridge between the government and the people.

Pen Samithy, the president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists and editor of the Raksmey Kampuchea newspaper, said that developing a variety of news for television was good for the people and the country as a whole since people can learn what’s happening around them. He said, however, there were not very many local television programmes and they were not updated.

Information Minister and Government Spokesman Khieu Kanharith said making shows for TV is a big expense, and added that just to get a good camera like the ones being used at TVK costs about $30,000 to $40,000.

He said that privately-owned television stations have to make money, so they are not able to have lots of people capturing the news from all over the country.

“Most of the news focuses on the government’s achievements and is positive,” said Pen Samithy. “I just want all the news that impacts the people.”

Lift conducted a survey of 100 university students in Phnom Penh and the results showed that 65 percent said the news is biased towards the government.

However, Huot Kheangveng said his television station carried both the positive and negative points of the government to let people know about its achievements and also to constructively criticise government.

“We have references, real sources and our reporters do it professionally. We disseminate the truth only,” he said.

Launched in March 2003, the Cambodian Television Network, or CTN, is the most popular station in Cambodia and is now broadcasting news for seven hours each day. Its programmes include the morning news, which has been running for the past year.

“Any bad news has already been reported by some radio stations and newspapers, so we don’t have to follow because it’s not good,” said Som Chhaya, CTN’s deputy director general and news editor, explaining that the market for news is very small and they cannot survive on news shows alone.

“As you can see, some newspapers are still printed in black and white and have not changed to colour printing like the others.”

Som Chhaya also said there are some obstacles he and his crews face in getting news. Getting information is sometimes difficult for him because some departments and ministries don’t have any spokesperson, so he has to try to contact other relevant sources who sometimes cannot be reached.

Now most television stations produce news programmes and analysis, which Som Chhaya
compares with having a meal that is delicious after adding the seasoning, more meat and more vegetables, meaning that news analysis provides more detail for the audience to better understand a situation.

Soy Sopheap, a news analyst at Bayon TV, said he always recaps and analyses the important news of the week, but acknowledged that “it’s not correct all the time, but we say what is true and adhere to our profession as journalists”.

However, Khieu Kanharith stressed that news analysis is not news but opinion.

“They have the freedom to express their opinions,” he said, adding that some people are not very professional in their analysis, but the majority of them are.

By: Dara Saoyuth & Sun Narin
This article was publish on LIFT, Issue 53 published on January 12, 2010

Should authorities be blamed on Koh Pich Issue?


 Should authorities be blamed on Koh Pich Issue by saoyuth

My radio production course assigned me to do a commentary with my friend under a topic “Should authorities be blamed on Koh Pich Issue?”.  My friend is on an opposing site that he think that the authorities should be blamed while I am on a supporting side that I have to stat that authorities should not be blamed.

We’ve just finished it as a radio course assignment and we’d like to share this piece with all of you. Cheers,

Blessing for the deceased

Relatives blessing for the deceased / by: Dara Saoyuth

Cue/Introduction: Diamond bridge stampede claimed some 350 people’s lives and injured hundreds last month, on the last day of water festival. Critics and a number of people have been complaining about the tragic incident. They put blame on the authorities for the reason that they have not managed the event well. However, some people have the ideas that no one should be blamed for the incident.

Our program is going to have commentary on the topic “Should the government be blamed for the incident?” Our commentators Sun Narin and Dara Saoyuth will express their point of view on the issue.

Sun Narin (Opposing site): I could not imagine how such incident happen on that day? People got jammed on the bridge and could not get out. Cambodia’s prime minister Hun Sen said that “Nobody will be punished for the incident.”

However, Sam Rainsy opposition party Son Chhay pushed the ruling government to identify the people responsible for “organizing the festival and handling the crowd” and wanted them to be fired from the position. This includes Phnom Penh governor, head of the police and interior ministry.

In my opinion, the government at least should take actions with those officials because they are irresponsible for their duty.

Phnom Penh municipality, relevant ministry and police did not perform their work responsibly and carefully. Why didn’t police facilitate the people’s crossing the bridge? There is not a lot of police force deploying at the incident place at that time.

Moreover, the bridge is for the exit only, why people were allowed to get in and out?  This is the reason causing the mass deaths. Why didn’t police deal with that problem?

Police could not help the victims urgently when the incident happened, keeping people stuck in the crowdedness more than 2 hours. This caused more people dead because of the suffocation in the stampede.

Finally, the organizing people don’t plan the ceremony well. They are not well-prepared to be ready for the unplanned incident. Comparing to other countries, when there is the some special event like that the government must guarantee that the safety for people. They are very careless about this.

I think this is the mass unprecedented deaths, so all these officials should be taken off from the position as the example for the other people.

Dara Saoyuth (Supporting site): Even though most Cambodians can think only who should be blamed when talking about tragedy on Koh Pich, to me, it is an opportunity to learn rather than focus on blame finding.

During the water festival, truck or big cars were not allowed to enter the city and even tuktuk couldn’t drive along riverside to avoid traffic jam and accident. I dared to say that Phnom Penh authorities were well-planned for the festival.

This year, people moved into the city more than the authority expectation, that in the evening of 22 November 2010, the accident happened. There are many reasons causing stampede including the lack of people morality that they push each other back and forth? Why should only authorities be blamed?

As we can see, immediately after the accident, the authorities were trying to help the victims in many ways.

The government ordered the Ministry of Health to pay much attention to the victims and also some officers to send dead people to their provinces with free of charge. The Phnom Penh Capital Hall also started reporting on the tragedy instantly and kept updating with new announcement related to the incident.

No one wants this to happen and also nothing can be changed. Now we should better find the solution instead of blaming.

One facebooker, Samsokrith Chhaly, urges the public to think of those who died during the Water Festival as heroes because they gave us priceless lesson for next year’s preparation. When development sides establish in Cambodia next time, I’m sure that they will think first about an effective risk management system.

Conclusion by Dara Saoyuth:

After listening to both supporting and opposing sides, do you still think that government should be blamed for the tragedy? If yes, what can you get from that? I know that it is Cambodian habit to accuse each other when something bad happen, but I suggest you to be more positive by considering it as a lesson. Again, no one should be blamed. Critics should take the effective risk management system for considering rather than putting blame.

By: Dara Saoyuth & Sun Narin
22/12/2010

The first time to Koh Pich after a tragedy


The Cambodian aunt and sister of a vicitim pray for their relative at the Diamond Gate bridge

The Cambodian aunt and sister of a vicitim pray for their relative at the Diamond Gate bridge / by: TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/Getty Images

After having dinner outside with friends this evening, I decided to ride my motor with them to Koh Pich (Diamond Island). This is the first time I rode across the bridge after the tragedy happened on 22 November 2010.

Everything is quite different from the last time I went there before the bad accident occurred. The north bridge where hundreds people died because of stampede is still being closed after the accident, so I was able to go to the island and back to the mainland only by another bridge.

There are not many people on the island though today is the weekend. It’s very easy for me to ride around the island unlike the earlier time I was there,  but I still think it’s better to have more people.

Most of the shops didn’t open especially entertainment places where now, there are only a few people there who mostly are the entertainment places owners themselves. It seem like no one dare to get on that entertainment instruments after something unpleasant happened.

I know that it’s not easy to forget about something happen on the last day of water festival in Cambodia this year. It take more time to calm people’s feeling that I myself have no idea when will this feeling goes away from Cambodians’ minds.

by: Dara Saoyuth
04/12/2010

Meeting Cambodian politicians on the internet


Picture of notebook screen with Facebook

Picture of notebook screen with Facebook / Image via Wikipedia

The internet has turned the world into a global village where people from different places can get to know each other and gain easy access to information, and this has prompted some Cambodian political parties to make their web presence known to reach a much bigger audience.

In most cases, these websites contain information such as political background, principles, activities and party contacts and are readily available on each party’s official website.

The Cambodian People’s Party, the current ruling party in the Kingdom, has its own website in both English and Khmer.

Cheam Yeap, spokesperson for the CPP, said having an official website can help people connect with political parties and learn about its background.

The internet has played a crucial role in delivering accurate news to Cambodians, said Yim Sovann, a spokesperson for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party.  This was the main reason the SRP launched a website in 2000.

“The internet has helped us get a lot of support, especially from activists and people living abroad,” he said.  “It’s a means to deliver truthful information by uploading documents and promoting our activities on our website.”

We are now living in a world of electronic democracy where people can communicate directly with their leaders using the internet. Therefore, a website on its own isn’t enough; some politicians have started to engage in social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to promote their political parties and expose themselves to a young, interested audiences.

There aren’t any official studies, but any young person can confirm that Facebook is one of the most popular social media outlets in Cambodia and it is used in different ways depending on the person. Everything from normal communications to political discussions to multi-user video games take place on the site. Many of the political parties have pages on Facebook, where they post updated party news and get instant feedback when people click on the “like” icon to show their agreement or post a comment if the like button doesn’t express their feelings.

The Human Rights Party has had a website since they formed in July 2007. The next year they won 6.62 percent of the votes in national elections. The party stepped up their online engagement by creating a Facebook page last year. In Cambodia, HRP leaders said that programmes on radio FM105 were the best way to reach people, but in order to reach supporters abroad, the internet is invaluable.

“The HRP depends completely on the internet in order to communicate with people who live abroad,” said Kem Sokha, the HRP president.

Khieu Kanharith, the government’s Minister of Information, said he had used Facebook for two years and before that he used several other social networks including hi5.   His online savvy is obvious since he usually replies to online messages within a few days if not a few hours. Yet he is not a complete convert of online communication.

“I think oral communication works better than comments via social networks,” he said.  “On Facebook, we cannot post everything – for example, policies that contain thousands of words cannot be condensed to two or three sentences. That is simply not enough to promote a policy.”

Sites like Facebook also provide a space for people to distribute false or damaging information without censorship or accountability. If  someone is offended by something online, they can easily return the insult by posting messages on walls or message boards. Lift asked Khieu Kanharith if such threats have concerned him in  more than two years of participating in similar forums. He said he’s not worried since people can differentiate real and fake information.

Nil Vandeth, a 19-year-old student at the Royal University of Law and Economics, has used Facebook to have his ideas heard and comment on other people’s inspirations.

“Politics is part of our general knowledge and people will know more about it when they start sharing their ideas,” he said. Cambodian people, particularly the young, are starting to take an interest in politics, he added, “because of the internet”.

By: Dara Saoyuth, Sothea Ines and Ouk Elita
This article was published on Lift, Issue 45 published on November 17, 2010
You can also read the article on Phnom Penh Post website by CLICKING HERE
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