S ENG MOCH, aged 30, a Cambodian journalist, died in the early hours of Sept 16, in
his home in Kien Svay, and will be sadly missed by his family, many friends and work
Born in Phnom Penh, Moch, third in a family of six, was a "star" within
his family because of what his father said was his "cleverness and his ability
Moch began his journalistic career in the 1980s with the national news agency, SPK,
before taking a relatively prestigious and well-paid position with the Japanese newspaper
Asahi Shimbun from 1991-1996. He soon joined the then unofficial but exclusive "Four
Aces Club", made up of Cambodian journalists working with foreign news agencies.
He was retrenched when Asahi Shimbun downgraded their Phnom Penh office, however,
and despite his illness, which caused him severe pain and fatigue, was forced to
continue working in order to buy expensive medicines. He went on to work three months
with the Chinese news agency Xinhua but had to finish with them due to his illness.
In June 1997 he began freelancing with the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning
Post and Voice of America, covering the July coup for them. He was the first journalist
to reach Tang Krasang, General Nhek Bun Chhay's base, on July 7, after it was seized
by CPP and former KR divisions.
Freelancing to buy medicines and keep up with the news as it occurred, Moch took
on assignments with BBC-TV Bangkok and London, Channel Seven TV Australia, and Japanese
news agencies during recent months.
Up early each day with the latest scoop and always ready with a smile and a joke,
by afternoon Moch had to rest up to gain strength for another day's work.
Influenced by his years with Japanese reporters, Moch would telephone through his
latest scoop and then invariably sign off the call with a Japanese confirmation,
A party animal with a wide circle of friends, Moch often spent time at his tiny farm
in Kien Svay, where he made firm friends amongst the local farming neighbors by assisting
their children with money for English classes when he had the cash.
The main breadwinner for his family, Moch fought against his debilitating illness
for months finding ways to keep his mobile phone and information networks operating.
Two weeks before his death, Moch - always the news hound - was out covering the Vietnam
Airlines crash in torrential rains. He caught a fever from which he never recovered.
He will be remembered by many for his flamboyant style, sharp news eye, winning smile,
and his warm heart.