Global voice, Native tongue

Global voice, Native tongue

In the last few years, hundreds of Cambodian bloggers have started blogs in Khmer. Tivea Koam weighs the impact of these blogs on the lives of their authors the people who are reading them.

Critical thoughts from a Critical blogger.
Chak Sopheap, 25, blogs at
What do you think about censorship of Ki-Media and other opposition sites?
While traditional media is mostly controlled by the ruling government, internet platform serves as the only medium where netcitizen can freely express their opinions without fear. This can be described as digital democracy emerging in Cambodia. The block on that medium; however, signals a set back in the freedom of expression and rights to information.

Do you think that government will expand internet censorship?
Probably yes with the combination of previous plans to have a state own ed internet hub, postponed in late 2010, and the current online social network movement in Arab States that has contributed to the removal of a number of long time dictators.   

Is it possible for the government to silence critical voices on the internet?
The government’s capacity, in terms of information technology, is still limited. The current block on KI media alone has generated a great number of discussions, questions, and commentary over social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and on blogs.

Whgat will happen If people can’t be critical of the government on the internet?
This can increase tension that ultimately leads to social unrest, as in a number of Arab states. The government should be obliged to folow the constitution, in whichcitizens have the right to freedom of expression and information and a platform for the public to raise their concern to the government for which they have elected.

With evolution of modern information technology and the accessibility of internet connections for most urban drawlers in Cambodia, more and more Cambodians have chosen blogging as a mean or platform of staying connections or using their freedom of expression like expressing opinion and sharing information with people living around the globe.

Rather than blogging in English, many  “cloggers” (Cambodian bloggers) have moved to Khmer language due to the more ideal use of  Khmer Unicode and their English language’s constraint with some other reasons.

Having blog for nearly one year, Moung Vathanak, a grade 10-student at Bak Touk high school said that he chose to blog in Khmer because he wanted to share language Cambodia has and wanted other people to know about Khmer literature.

“I use blog as my diary and post literature work I have written in my blog to share it with other people,” he said “it is hard for me to blog in English since I do not know much.”

However, some cloggers who blogged in English have changed . Since the late of 2006, Tim Beoun, the owner of has turned from English blogging into Khmer blogging owing to his love for Khmer language and Khmer Unicode.

“At that time, there was Khmer Unicode available and I wanted to write more in Khmer since I love Khmer language. I also wanted to raise awareness of Cambodian people who were using a lot of Khmer words with wrong spelling and grammar,” said Tim Beoun.

As a student of Information and Technology at Norton University and staff at Web Essential, Tim Beoun has spent his free time conducting research and reading more books to write articles and post them on his blog to share that information with other people.

In his blog, Tim Beoun has posted and written articles related to his personal experience, religion, Khmer grammar, technology, software programs, and commentary pieces on any issues that he had read in newspaper, etc. However, when he has no time, he also takes news from others to post on to his blog to inform his reader by putting credit and link to the owner of those pieces of news as well.

26 year-old Tim Beoun recalls that he used to search for information in Khmer language in the internet, but it was hard to find one. When he found anything written in Khmer, he was so happy. He told himself to write more in Khmer so that people especially students could get information written in Khmer in the internet if they do not know English.

His ideas was echoed by another clogger, Keo Samady who also started blogging in the late of 2006 that he wanted to create more information and articles written in Khmer accessible to the public. He said that he had posted information about his personal experience, social issues happening in society, and AIDS which he is working on.

Keo Samady, 25-year-old who owned two blog both Khmer and English said that he blogged in Khmer because he wanted to promote Khmer Unicode which is Khmer Language and not many Cambodian people can read English while his English was made for international visitors.

Even though their blog are written in Khmer language, there are thousands of visitors looking at their blogs. Tim Beoun’s blog, 4Khmer has got more than one million visitors. “It motivates me a lot when there are supporters for my blogs. They read my blog and commented on what I wrote,” he said. Since writing blog takes a lot of patience and motivation, those feedbacks he got inspired him and made him tried to search more information for posting more.

“Sometimes the information I post can be right or wrong, but other people who read can give back their ideas which makes me know more and I can understand different points of views of people commenting on my blog,” he said.

A student at Santor Mok high school, Tep Sovichet, 16, is one of the cloggers who also blogs in Khmer said that he had known Tim Beoun’s blog through other Khmer blogs. “I found interesting articles about Khmer Literature and Information Technology that I think I can get experience and knowledge from the blog; therefore, I subscribed to it,” he said, adding that he always commented on any new posts from 4Khmer blogs and exchanged opinion as well as discussed on any issues posted there to get more ideas.

Many cloggers seem to have taken advantage of blogging in promoting Khmer language and exercising their freedom of expression. There is also fear threat that that information posted on those blogs cannot be accessed anymore due to the current of censorship and block on some blogs. However, most cloggers hope that government would not continue censorship on their blogs which are not oppositional to the government.


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