Archive for December 30th, 2006

Editorial 2006-12-31 – At the End of the 10th Year of The Mirror

Posted on 30 December 2006. Filed under: *Editorial*, Comments, Week 488 |

At the End of the 10th Year of The Mirror

Throughout the years, our editorials very frequently dealt with fundamental problems of how a society can keep functioning peacefully and move ahead, so that an ever growing number of its members feel satisfied, even under difficult circumstances. Obviously, among the most important preconditions is a reliable, fair, legal environment. The challenge of responding to a wide variety of people in society – with very different degrees of power – can be achieved when there is a perception of fairness and justice for all under the law. When this confidence is weak or absent, there is no peace.
This week provided many opportunities to reflect on this again, and the same issues will accompany us in the next weeks and months:
– Prince Ranariddh has been called to court for quite different reasons – massive economic accusations, and very personal ones.
– Former police commissioner Heng Pov has been repatriated to Cambodia to face the law – but members of the Federal Court in Malaysia, and the Bar Association of Malaysia, are deeply upset, claiming that legal procedures of their country were short-cut.
– Saddam Hussein, the former president of Iraq, has been sentenced to death for the 1982 killings of 148 Shiites; to remove him from office and work towards regime change has cost the lives of an estimated 60,000 to 600,000 civilians. The execution has short-cut and taken away forever the opportunity to come closer to the historical truth about the past – a fundamental goal of the Khmer Rouge Trial.

When The Mirror – in English – was started in 1997, we did not have any idea how long we would be able to provide the service, or how long it would be appreciated. With the addition of the Kanychok Sangkum – in Khmer – one year later, the scope became much wider: not only to provide the English reading public with access to events in society as they are presented in the Khmer press, but to provide an overview of the whole Khmer press to a wide Khmer reading public: not only in Phnom Penh, but especially also in the provinces, and among the expatriate Khmer community.
After this issue, we will not be able to provide the same service, but will have to change to a different format: publishing only on the Internet, and only in English. It is with deep regret that we have to announce this – it is not our choice.
In the 478th Mirror and the 416th Kanychok Sangkum, published at the end of June 2006, we informed our readers of financial problems and consequences: “With this issue, we have to stop publication – but we can add a ray of hope: maybe we will be able to resume after a temporary interruption. Whether or not this will be possible will become clear during the next one or two months.”
But things took an unforeseen turn: although financial support for The Mirror and Kanychok Sangkum was received, the production team and I were terminated. – The resources, including the pre-paid subscriptions, are kept by the former institution, outside our control.
We resumed publication in November 2006, in association with the new Open Institute, on the basis of impressive staff dedication and some private financial contributions. We received a lot of appreciation, and a number of subscription requests, but it has not been possible to re-create the solid financial basis we had before.
Instead, for now, I am building a similar but flexible form English language publication on the Internet – a blog. It is free and can be found at:

It is not yet clear whether it will be possible to create again, in cooperation with the Open Institute, a Khmer version which would be available on the Internet and also on paper, for the majority of our readers who do not have access to the Internet.
There is one positive aspect to the change: electronic publication enables an easier real mutual exchange of communication – and not in the static form known in some publications as “Letters to the Editor” which then are also shared with other readers. We hope for more. This will be technically possible in the electronic publication: an open dialogue not only with the editor, but also among readers.
This has been a goal from the beginning: not only to provide readers with an overview of the major issues appearing in Cambodian newspapers, but to facilitate dialogue between the wide variety of different positions and opinions which we mirror. No modern, democratic, multiparty society can develop without such open exchanges. We hope that our readers will reflect on and discuss the values, social dynamics, and uses of power and resources that are mirrored in the press, and that this will enable all to be more effective and active members of society.
We are grateful that the Khmer language newspapers have, over the years, allowed us to share translated excerpts from their publications – and by doing so to make them more widely known. We will ask for a similar understanding also for our new communications tool.
Thanks for all the encouragement sent when we started to publish again. We regret that we cannot continue as we had hoped – but we trust that a new community of communication can grow.

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