I first read the Phnom Penh Post in 1992 when my English was too poor to understand
it. At least I understood the pictures. I read it because it was the first English
newspaper I had ever seen in Cambodia, or probably in my life after 20 years of war.
Later I dreamed of being one of its reporters but my English was poor so I forgot
By accident, I found a part-time job at a TV station with an English news program.
I was a reporter, at last. I wanted to write for a newspaper so I went to the Post.
I met a man in a special room. I guessed he was the boss. I was scared and excited
with a lot of pictures and messy stuff in his room. He sat facing the wall. He turned
around with his moving chair and said with a strong and strict voice, "Yes,
what can I do for you".
At first glance, I told myself, "Wow, this tall man looks very American".
I thought he was one of the best journalists in the world. I know you can guess who
he was. He is Michael Hayes, the Editor-in-Chief. I told him that I wanted to be
a reporter. He asked me to collect all the names of the streets in Phnom Penh. I
failed after trying for one week.
Some months later, I was hired by Reuters for a brief stint. My boss sent me to the
Post and I met Michael again. He asked me to do a freelance piece. I wrote about
corruption in the education system. It was a big success. My story went on one full
page. I was famous, and he employed me.
I spent two years at the Post. I slept on a sofa waiting for my articles to be edited.
I ate pizza and drank Coke while waiting. I did not know it was a pizza but just
liked it and told myself, "Oh this cake is really good". I still remember
I went with Michael to Tbeng in Kampong Thom by military helicopter to cover a war
story. A soldier offered breakfast, lunch and palm wine with a top commander. A day
after Michael had to go to the toilet often.
He asked once me how I felt about AIDS. I said, "No problem, it takes twenty
years to die". He quoted me in his Gecko column.
For its tenth birthday I wish the newspaper continues to be strong and high profile.
óNara was a reporter from Aug 1994 until Dec 1995. He is currently Information
Manager at Save the Children.