Ek Tha, a veteran journalist, published author and spokesman for the Council of Ministers, has passed away at the age of 51.
His family said he passed away on the morning of March 3 due to a heart attack. The funeral will be held in his hometown in Phnom Den commune of Takeo province’s Kiri Vong district.
His eldest daughter Ek Apsara, 22, told The Post: “My father is 51 years old and was recently diagnosed with heart disease, but it was not considered serious. On the day he passed away he simply fell unconscious. We took him to hospital, but he could not be resuscitated.”
Phay Siphan, head of the government’s Spokesperson Unit, said the death was a loss to the whole of Cambodia, not just the unit.
“Tha was a Reuters journalist for more than 10 years before joining the press reaction unit and finally the spokesperson unit, where he became deputy director. With his wealth of experience, this is a huge loss,” he said.
He said Tha had been actively involved in government and was also a doctoral candidate at the Royal Academy of Cambodia.
Many journalists who knew and were trained by Tha expressed their grief over his passing.
Before his death, Tha gave an interview to The Post about his career as a journalist and becoming a government official.
He began his career as a journalist in 1994. The reason he pursued this career was because he understood that “real reporting held a mirror up to the reality of what happened and what will happen”.
He felt the national and international media did not fully cover what happened here during the civil war, causing the Cambodian people to suffer tragedy and reducing the country’s infrastructure to “almost zero”.
Through his writing – often after interviews with the country’s leadership – he wanted to help the public understand what was happening. By doing so, he hoped to help society to move towards growth and sustainable development.
He later joined the government in 2009.
“I wanted to improve communication between journalists and information officials. I thought it was important because all too often, disagreements arise from simple misunderstandings,” he said.
Despite being a veteran journalist and government official, he found time to author four books, an academic tome on the factors which led to the civil war and three well-received novels, each with a political subtext.