Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Australians buy Cambodian newspaper

January 08, 2008

TWO Australian businessmen with media interests in Burma have purchased a controlling interest in Cambodia's Phnom Penh Post.

The Post's new owners are Ross Dunkley, whose company Myanmar Consolidated Media publishes the Burmese government mouthpiece Myanmar Times, Burma's first private newspaper, and mining entrepreneur Bill Clough.

They have promised The Post will remain independent and will soon publish weekly.

The current proprietor and editor-in-chief, American Michael Hayes, launched the newspaper on a whim in 1992 in a Phnom Penh bar. He will stay on as editor-in-chief for another 18 months.

The newspaper's launch was timed to coincide with the arrival of the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), heralding a new era for Cambodia as it emerged from more than three decades of war, including the Khmer Rouge “killing fields” reign of terror in which more than 2 million perished.

The Phnom Penh Post - well-known and highly regarded throughout Southeast Asia, although not always well-liked by the Cambodian Government - enjoys a reputation for being fiercely independent.

It was among the world's first media outlets to proclaim the death and cremation of notorious Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot with the headline “Burnt like Old Rubbish”.

The newspaper has helped serve as a career springboard for a generation of journalists interested in reporting from Southeast Asia, in particular Cambodia, including Nate Thayer - who achieved fame with an exclusive 1997 interview with Pol Pot after he was arrested as a result of an internal Khmer Rouge purge.

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