For four decades I have written stories only for The Age in Melbourne and other Fairfax Media publications, with one notable exception.
When Michael Hayes founded The Phnom Penh Post in 1992, I offered to become an unpaid bureau chief, filing variously from Canberra, Melbourne, Jakarta and Darwin, over many years. It was a great honour to have my name under The Post’s masthead.
The newspaper has been providing invaluable coverage of Cambodia’s political, economic, social and cultural issues, and development for a quarter of a century. Its reporters, photographers and editors have consistently and bravely shone lights in dark places where few others dared tread. Its fierce independence became legendary in the world’s free media.
It has never sided with any political party or movement or pursued any hidden agendas. The paper’s mission has been to print the truth, regardless of the consequences.
However, I have become increasingly alarmed about attacks on The Post at a time vested interests across the world are spruiking the notion of “fake news”.
Claims the newspaper is involved in some sort of alleged conspiracy to overthrow the government in Phnom Penh are simply not true.
If the Cambodian government wants to call itself a “democracy” it should recognise the importance of an independent publication like The Post that has prided itself on providing balanced, fair and accurate coverage of Cambodia and the region.
Other organisations in the country should also acknowledge that freedoms and decency can only flourish if there is a vibrant and inquisitive free media.
Take a bow, Post.
Lindsay Murdoch is a three time winner of the Walkley, Australia’s top award for journalistic excellence. He is currently based in Bangkok.