29 April 2008

Q&A on Blogging in Cambodia

Questions & Answers (Q&A):

Nearly two weeks ago I was asked from one news publication here in Phnom Penh. The reporter of that news services wanted to write on "Blogging in Cambodia" so he sent a serie of questions. I responded right away. Here's my cut-n-paste from the email of my response to him :

Flag: courtesy of http://www.mir.com.my/leofoo/Cambodia2005/index.htm

Why do you think most Cambodian bloggers avoid talking about politics and political leaders?

It's true. The majority of Khmer bloggers write about poetries, stories and their normal everyday activities. There's nothing wrong with that. As long as we write something that would take a lot of effort already. Yes, most of our bloggers avoid the issues that matter the most for our country direction; that is politics and the country's leadership. For the very reason I feel we're still feared of being persecuted on anything we say about our leaders. I don't like to think like this. Our leaders' mentalities are that they are inviolable. No one can criticise them. Anything we said to offend them we could be the next target for a roadside accident or shot at. The assailants will always never been found.

On the other hand, what gives you the confidence to write about these issues? (I can see from your blog that you have written extensively about political issues that many others avoid.)

Yes, I do have some confidence to write. My confidence based from part of our Kingdom's constitution Chapter III, Article 41 guarantees that "Khmer citizens shall have freedom of expression, press, publication and assembly. No one shall exercise this right to infringe upon the rights of others, to affect the good traditions of the society, to violate public law and order and national security. The regime of the media shall be determined by law."

My writings are of my own opinion, feeling and curiosity based from what I read from our local news sources. I feel I've done nothing wrong. I have links to the sources where I got the news and I just write what I feel. Some issues I am skeptical. For example where PM Hun Sen get the money to build the parks and bridges and named them after himself. What rights has he got to do this? Who elected Madame Bun Rany Hun Sen for president of Cambodia Red Cross? Then there come my feeling: Must I write about it or should I remain suppressed forever?

I feel freedom of expression as stated in our constitution Chapter III-41 is very fundamental in our democracy. Our leaders, public officials must be opened to criticism or else our kingdom is no different from communist Cuba , North Korea or the Junta of Myanmar. Unless they're not dictators, sensible leaders do take heed from voices of our people and they would change accordingly for the better.

Has anyone ever cautioned you to be more careful in what you write about? Have you ever been threatened or reprimanded in any way?

My closest friends always cautioned me to be careful on my writings. They told me to stay 'low profile'. One major news agency wanted to meet me in person to interview me on the article of blogging in Cambodia . After consulted with my friends, I humbly declined to meet with the chief correspondent of that news agency. Oftentimes, I would like to attend the Cambodia Blogger (Clogger) summit or some Cambodia bloggers' meet ups. I would wanted to sit at these events anonymously. The event organizers wouldn't know who I am. I wanted to socialise with my fellow bloggers. On all of the occasions my friends strongly advised me not to go, but to stay low. It seems my friends feared more for me than myself of my own writing! Beside my friends' precautionary advises, so far no one has ever threatened or reprimanded me. And if I ever hear it from any of our officials I would like to see it in writing; I surely will post it on my blog.

Do you feel you have complete freedom of speech when you blog?

I want to think I have complete freedom in my writing. I don't want to feel bullied by the officials that they are untouchables, inviolable and above the rule of laws. Again, I feel it's nothing wrong to express our feelings as long as all of our writings are based from facts and references. As you see in my blog I always have screen captures and links to other sources where I got the news.

I've mentioned above from our constitution that it guarantees my rights to free speech as Khmer citizens. Do I really have complete freedom of speech ? Here's what I think that Chapter III, article 41 doesn't really clearly guarantee our full freedom of speech. It's sort of contradicting of what is stated in the premises: "Khmer citizens shall have freedom of expression, press, publication and assembly [...]" Then the last clause stated: "The regime of the media shall be determined by law." I feel our constitution is flawed. It is not really much of a guarantee if the premises stated we can do so then at the end it would say whatever I write "shall be determined by the law". Now we need to put capable heads together to rewrite and eliminate these 'double talks' in our constitution.

I occasionally read some of our bloggers express politics in their writings. I've noticed other blogs criticise pubic officials too. I am hoping the trend continues and would see more our bloggers write what are affecting them the most, socially. The freedom to express in our forms of speeches without fear of being persecuted is very fundamental on all of us Khmer citizens. Let say allow us to write on topics such as the bribery in judges, freedom of religions, the idiocy of the prime minister, corruption and illegal land grabbing, the kowtowing of our government to Hanoi government, illegal Vietnamese settlers…etc. If there are issues that are affecting our Cambodia interests, we should and must be able to address them freely.

PP Cambodia
21 April 2008

Constition: http://www.embassy.org/cambodia/cambodia/constitu.htm
Cambodia flag: http://www.mir.com.my/leofoo/Cambodia2005/index.htm


Khmerchica209 said...

Hi, Nice blog.Please come by and comment mine.

Anonymous said...

I highly appreciate you efforts in expressing yourself freely in writing though your country is known suppose to be as a democratic country but a lot of people don't have the guts to write against the powerful though many are corrupt. There has to be people who should have the courage to express themselves freely

Soursdey said...


wasn't too sure if you've (& others)read about "Country for sale", so here is the link:


you may find discussions re this article at 4khmer.wordpress. I initially thought that I may have read about it on your blog but it appears that that wasn't the case.

Blog By Khmer said...

khmerchica -- thanks for discovering my blog. Your's is great too! -- looking forward to read some creative writings of yours more.

Anon@4:58 -- Thank you! I see you really know about our current Cambodia. Agree with u. We must continue to write freely !

soursdey -- that's a great article. Very very true. they steal from the poor and give to the rich. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Khmer people should have the right to express freely themselves about everything. However, there are so many young people who just like to criticize our goverment, and they aren't willing to praise it for whatever. A good citizen is the one who accepts reality even though sometimes it's not pleasant as you'd like, contribute to it, and moves on. Whinning doesn't help at all.

Location: said...

Hello Blog By Khmer.
Thank you for you honest expression. I am happy.. I am happy to see Khmer out there telling the real story of suffering Cambodian. If many of Khmer talk, our government will hear and soon they will change. Lets hope! Sometimes, human needs to be reminded. Although, it has been over 2 decades,we should continue reminding them.

-I believe, good government should be able to take criticism and support the citizens. Not threaten or bribe. That's primitive.

-Healthy leaders and healthy citizen make prosperous country.

-There is much destructin on Cambodian lives, expect to see and hear painful voice and tears. IT'S NOT WHINING!

Thank you for educating people around the globe about Cambodia. And I hope you continue to do so.

Aw kun,
From Tears of Cambodia :|

Vuthanews said...

That is great that you are feeling confident yourself and dare to express your own thoughts and opinion on Cambodia. Commonly, i visit many Cambodian bloggers, they do not like to write the sensitive topics. they just only share their daily activities, funny stories and photos.

I think that the current society is obstacle to sharing thoughts, opinion. By the way, the young youths do not like to write politic and something because they that it will be their life threat.

Blog By Khmer said...

Anonymous 7:37am,
Maybe we praise for the government, because now we have colour TV's, mobile phones, DVD, karaoke, moto's, and cars all over our streets -- that's how advance we are since the last 45 years during Sangkum Ras Niyum ! Because Samdach Decho Hun Sen have made things such as colour TV's & mobile phones available to the people of Cambodia ! -

Thank you Bong Srey! for taking time to visit and comment. Comments like yours mean a lot to me.

We do have the law to guarantee our speech, but these power people respect no laws. Yes, for sure death threat to that person who say something they don't like. Our Cambodia has to be more civilised in term of the rights to free speech.

Thanks bro ! Keep blogging on any topics -- let it be pictures postings, poetry or anything else

កូនខ្មែរ said...

តើថ្ងៃណា ទើបខ្មែរបានដូចស្រុកគេហ្ន! គិតទៅបើមិនទាន់ដើរចេញពី ប្រទេសទេ ក៏មិនដឹងថា ប្រទេសខ្មែរ ជាប្រទេសបែបណា!
ប្រជាជន មើលទៅប្រៀបដូចជាកង្កែបក្នុងអណ្ដូងអញ្ចឹង គាត់មិនធ្លាប់បានស្គាល់ អ្វីទៅរបស់ល្អ អ្វីទៅជារបស់ពិតប្រាកដ។
ខ្ញុំប្រហែលជាមិនទាន់ នឹងឃើញប្រទេសខ្មែរ នឹងរីកចំរើនទេមើលទៅ។

Anonymous said...

to all that come a cross my writing, i hope you find streght and confindent to go on.Freedom must come with a price, as we all learn through history before us, none of the country even got their freedom by bagging the rich, the king, the dictator to give them, they all have to pay with their very lives. i am willing to give mine so that the next generation after me can enjoy freedom and prosperity as a nation. we are khmer, we love peacefulnes but how can there are peace if the youn keep on comming in our country, how can there are peace if the youn goverment taking our land, how can there are peace if the khmer goverment only interested in given to the youn, how can there are peace if you goverment of MR Hun Sen keep on tourquering your won people, how can there are peace if Cambodian people being strip off their own land, how can there are peace if don't stand up and fight for what is right for the future of our nation. this nation will not last another 100 years if it keep today leaders. look around you my friends, in the city of Phnom Penh alone, about haft of the phnom penh population are already youn. what's really hurt me the most to see a Cambodia citizen confronted with the Veitnames that live in Cambodia, next thing you know, there are polices dragging your won people, beat up the Cambodian man and let the Veitnames goes free without a charge, it bring tears to my eyes, my friends. what is that telling! that this goverment run by Mr Hun Sen and his Gangs are only interest in the sake of Veitnam their boss and nothing else. Cambodia can be hungry, homeless, and poor as long as they can give land to big bussiness that run for the profit to Veitnam, that is all they care for...... Khmer must wake up and stand for what is right, do the right be voting, pick the leader not base on what he can give you but on what he can do for the nation.