Tuesday, May 3, 2011

In the press

Today is World Press Freedom Day, aimed at reflecting on the principles of press freedom, defending media from outside influences and controls and paying tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in exercising their profession. Talking about the press here in Cambodia could fill a book let alone a blog post but the one element that I've moaned about before, here, namely envelope journalism is something that Cambodia has to move away from before it can begin to call itself a truly independent press. We are planning for the AFC President's Cup in Cambodia later this month and as part of the budget, we have to cater for journalists attending the matches and press conferences, where they will expect to receive payment for their attendance, discreetly given inside a small envelope of course, hence the name. This is something that is anathema to me personally, but widely accepted locally. There's a lot more besides but the freedom of the press must go hand in hand with ensuring they maintain professional integrity and remain unbiased and balanced in their reporting.
On the subject of the news, retired King Norodom Sihanouk has chosen to discuss the subject of the current King's virtue. He stated that in the modern era Kings Norodom, Sisowath and Monivong had 'contented themselves with 300, 200 and 60 female consorts, or favourites, respectively. King N Sihanouk had 6 wives,' he wrote, whilst 'Our current King, Norodom Sihamoni, has neither spouse, nor mistress nor feminine adventure.' The current King will be 58 later this month. Thank you to his father for clearing that up.

Looking ahead to a couple of events at Meta House in May, the ones that caught my eye were a film about the Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan, titled Facing Genocide, that will be shown on Wednesday 18 May. The 94 minute film was made by two Swedish filmmakers and will be presented by activist Theary Seng. Two nights later (20 May), the films Redlight and Virginity Trade will focus on the subject of child and female exploitation in Cambodia. We also have the book launch at Monument Books of the Shamini Flint novel set in Cambodia, Inspector Singh Investigates, this coming Friday 6 May at 6pm.

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