Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Naro in from the cold as KJA looks to settled future

Naro in from the cold as KJA looks to settled future

Naro in from the cold as KJA looks to settled future

The Khmer Journalists Association has returned to normal activities with So Naro

- the most controversial journalist in Cambodia's unruly press - as its secretary


Co-Presidents Pin Samkhon and Tat Ly Hok reluctantly decided on Naro's appointment,

saying their decision was the only choice to avoid the troubles the KJA has encountered

during the past three months.

"Some projects have resumed over the past week after a long stand-off. We have

reached a compromise to appoint Naro as secretary general," said Ly Hok.

"Many members did not want him [Naro] but there is pressure and its target is

Samkhon," he said.

Samkhon said: "Without this move, we would have had more problems. But we told

him [Naro] to stop causing problems for the association, I want peace for the KJA."

The move, however, reflected a set-back for Samkhon, who has been determined not

to give in to Naro.

Speaking to the Post, Naro said his revenge against Samkhon was prompted by the latter's

failure to defend him in his article about Sirivudh plotting to assassinate Hun Sen.

Samkhon, at that time, termed Naro an "unethical and unprofessional" journalist.

"I began to have an idea that if they are against us we have to attack back,"

Naro said.

"Personally, I do not feel [like] hating him [Samkhon] but I had a conflict

with him about views on the Sirivudh story," he said.

"If it [the story] were created by KJA, it would have been called KJA's Watergate.

But I did not cook it up," he said in reference to the article in his Angkor

Thmei newspaper.

Naro's article created a political storm. Samkhon and Cheam Phary - KJA's advertising

representative - had to testify before a court which sentenced Sirivudh to ten years

in prison. Samkhon and Phary were disappointed but Naro said it was just "accidental...

a big challenge" for the association.

"That affair was extremely accidental, I have nothing to be sorry about,"

he said.

Of his testimony in Sirivudh's trial, Naro said he was not surprised when the prince's

lawyers did not cross-examine him because "without them questioning me, it was

better, otherwise the sentence would have been heavier".

He acknowledged that he has been accused of being pro-Hun Sen because of the Sirivudh

story and he said: "Frankly speaking, even if I say yes or no, people still

keep saying that [I'm pro-Hun Sen] because it came out clearly like that."

"And I have no reason at all to be against Hun Sen. These are my words,"

he said.

His bitterness with Samkhon, with whom he set up KJA, intensified after a Jan 5 election,

in which Samkhon became president with a one-vote win.

Naro spearheaded an anti-Samkhon campaign. Lamenting that he became broke, Naro said

that he saw his campaign as a good opportunity for him to be reinstated as the KJA's

secretary-general which "I have been good at since I first served the association".

"Really, I did expect Samkhon to lose because he had indicated that he did not

need me, so I needed a new president," Naro said.

However, Naro - who said he liked and supported Ly Hok - also launched attacks against

Ly Hok during his anti-Samkhon campaign.

Now back on the post again, Naro claimed that he was able to cope with those who

remained unhappy with Samkhon and vowed to improve the atmosphere within the KJA.