Established in 1992, The Phnom Penh Post stands as the Kingdom’s oldest English-language publication. Renowned for its in-depth and independent reporting, it has consistently shone a light on the most diverse aspects of Cambodian society. 

The Post covers various domains, from spotlighting young women and children’s empowerment to celebrating the nation’s cultural richness, culinary diversity and advocating for sustainable tourism. Through every story and feature, The Post strives not only to inform but also to inspire, playing a crucial role in fostering social progress and cultural conservation.

Highlighting its broad coverage, a recent exclusive interview with Indonesian ambassador to Cambodia Santo Darmosumarto delved into the 65-year-long diplomatic relationship between the two nations.

The ambassador spoke about the evolution of the bond, emphasising trade milestones, educational and cultural exchanges and the potential for future collaborations, particularly in youth and technology sectors. 

The feature is a testament to The Post’s commitment to connecting its readers with significant regional and international developments.

As The Post prepares to bid farewell to its print edition this March, the Lifestyle section, a reader’s favourite, will continue to engage with a multitude of topics, ranging from arts and culture to social issues and travel. Reflecting on the journey, the team is proud of their contributions across all sections, which have played a crucial role in shaping the narrative of modern Cambodia.

The Post and social issues

The Post has consistently drawn attention to social issues in Cambodia, with a particular emphasis on initiatives that empower young women and children. An exemplar of this focus is the story of Lek Karry, who at the tender age of 14 courageously resisted an arranged marriage. 

Karry’s journey led her to become an ardent advocate for education in Ratanakkiri province, a role further recognised by her selection as an ambassador for the Girls Get Equal campaign with Plan International Cambodia (PIC). Her appointment underscores her commitment to enabling young women and girls to assert control over their lives, while having a positive impact on their communities.

The publication has spotlighted numerous charities, among which the Cambodia Children’s Fund (CCF) and Les Restaurants des Enfants, also known as Children’s Kitchen, are notable for their substantial contributions to the most vulnerable members of society. 

These organisations tirelessly strive to mitigate the challenges faced by underprivileged children in Cambodia by providing essential services such as education, nutrition and healthcare.

The CCF – founded by former Hollywood executive Scott Neeson – is lauded for its transformative holistic education programmes that have impacted thousands of children and their families. Les Restaurants des Enfants focuses on offering nutritious meals, vital for children’s healthy development. 

The Post’s coverage of these organisations draws attention to their vital efforts in advancing the well-being of Cambodia’s younger generation, emphasising the role of community support and international aid in effecting meaningful change.

CCF senior communications editor Kate Ginn expressed her gratitude for The Post’s sustained support

“Over the years, The Phnom Penh Post has been a strong supporter of the CCF, a charity working with underprivileged children and families in Phnom Penh, helping to promote our work to a wider audience and raise awareness of the plight of vulnerable children in Cambodia”.

Ginn highlights The Post’s role in showcasing the triumphs of children assisted by the fund, including those who have earned scholarships to study in Australia, thereby illustrating the profound impact of the organisation on their lives. 

“This has helped shed light on the challenges children face in Cambodia and the efforts made to transform the lives of vulnerable families and communities,” she says.

Art, culture, traditions and belief

As Cambodia’s eminent English-language publication, The Post plays a major role in portraying the nation’s cultural landscape, encompassing a diverse array of topics from arts and traditions to beliefs and customs. 

Its coverage extends across the spectrum of Cambodian culture, featuring traditional art forms like classical dance, shadow puppetry and Angkor-era sculptures, but also contemporary arts including modern dance and painting.

The Post’s commitment to cultural preservation is evident in its reports on ancient temples, archaeological sites, the repatriation of looted artifacts and the safeguarding of traditional crafts such as silk weaving, pottery and silverwork. 

It also shines a spotlight on Cambodia’s dynamic performing arts scene, covering traditional Apsara dance performances, modern theatre productions and even opera performances, thus celebrating both local and international artistic collaborations.

Traditions and customs form another cornerstone of The Post’s content, with detailed explorations of religious festivals like Pchum Ben and Songkran (traditional Khmer New Year), and various rites of passage such as wedding and funerary practices.

It delves into the belief systems shaping Cambodian society, including Buddhism, Hinduism, animism and the influence of spirituality in daily life.

The publication also actively promotes Cambodia’s literary and film sectors, highlighting local authors, book launches, film festivals and productions that mirror societal themes or historical events. 

Kok Ros, director of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Art’s Department of Books and Reading, lauds The Post for its important role in enhancing the arts, literature and reading culture in Cambodia. 

“The Post contributes to promoting almost all national cultural and literary events, effectively bringing up-to-date information, facts, images and content from ministries and institutions to the public,” he says. 

The Post’s coverage of the upcoming The Golden Voice musical a notable example, celebrating Cambodia’s “Golden Era” and the life of Ros Sereysothea, a legendary singer and one of the brightest stars of that vibrant cultural period in the 1960s and early 1970s. 

The publication also featured a collaborative Franco-Cambodian effort in a significant restoration project, reassembling a 10th-century dancing Shiva statue, discovered in over 10,000 fragments at the Koh Ker archaeological site in Preah Vihear province, showcasing The Post’s dedication to both cultural heritage and contemporary developments.

A team from the French School of Asian Studies (EFEO) assembles a dancing Shiva statue in March 2024. EFEO

Cambodia’s food and drink

The Post avidly explores Cambodia’s rich culinary culture, featuring an assortment of articles on local food and drink. The publication delves into the increasing popularity of indigenous beverages like Mondulkiri yellow passion wine, “Khmer gin” and Pailin longan wine, illustrating a burgeoning interest in local wine and spirit production. 

It also highlights the integral role of the food and beverage sector in boosting Cambodian tourism, demonstrating how distinctive cuisine can transform a destination into a culinary hotspot.

The Post spotlights refreshing local beverages such as sra sor, a delightful blend of rice flour, coconut milk and pandan leaves, offering solace from the heat. 

Celebrating Cambodia’s gastronomic heritage, The Post introduces readers to an array of traditional dishes. Fish amok, a beloved staple, artfully combines freshwater fish with coconut milk and aromatic spices, steamed in banana leaves. Num ansom chek, a festive dessert, melds sticky rice, coconut milk and sugar, encased in banana leaves, while prahok, a ubiquitous pungent-smelling fermented fish paste used in a wide variety of local dishes, is renowned for its robust flavour.

The publication most recently covered the Khmer Cooking Contest, held at the Chef Nak Culinary Art Centre on March 10, which showcased the diversity of Cambodian cuisine. The competition was co-organised by Ros Rattanak, a celebrity chef widely known as Chef Nak and renowned for her internationally-acclaimed Saoy – Royal Cambodian Home Cuisine cookbook.

Nem Pov Pisey, one of the participants, impressed the judges with her traditional Khmer dish, “bok kroeung khmao”, securing third place. The dish, translating to “black spice crush”, was noted for its complex flavours, attracting Chef Nak’s interest for inclusion in future projects, underscoring the event’s importance in celebrating Khmer culinary traditions.

Chef Nak, a fervent advocate for Cambodian culinary arts, expresses her appreciation for The Post’s collaborative role in preserving and promoting the country’s intricate culinary legacy. 

“We work together to share Cambodia’s undiscovered stories with the world, honouring our cultural heritage, appreciating the talent of our home cooks and fostering community solidarity through conversation and innovative culinary exploration,” Nak remarks. 

 “Through our collaboration with The Phnom Penh Post, we strive to highlight the distinct stories, flavours and traditions that make Cambodian cuisine stand out,” she adds.

The Post’s travel section

Over the last 10 years, The Phnom Penh Post’s Travel section has guided its readers through Cambodia’s rich tapestry of natural wonders, eco-tourism and adventurous escapades. 

The section has featured the tranquility of Pursat’s waterfalls, the historical richness of Battambang’s Phnom Sampov limestone mountain and the inviting charm of Koh Kong’s Nesat Beach, among others. 

These narratives have been further enriched by stories like that of Chum Pesey, who conquered Cambodia’s highest peaks, illustrating the nation’s potential for trekking and mountaineering.

The coverage has also delved into the biodiversity of the Stung Treng Ramsar site, spotlighting eco-tourism havens like Koh Han and Koh Thmor Komboul. These destinations are not just places of natural beauty but also crucial for the livelihoods of local communities. 

The Post’s travel stories extend beyond the picturesque landscapes to include the efforts of the Ministry of Tourism and various stakeholders in promoting eco-tourism. Projects in areas such as Samros Koh Han in Stung Treng province exemplify the integration of tourism with environmental conservation and community empowerment.

Throughout this decade, The Post’s Travel section has not only captured the allure of Cambodia’s diverse destinations but has also contributed significantly to the narrative of sustainable tourism and environmental stewardship. 

This comprehensive coverage showcases Cambodia as a nation dedicated to preserving its environmental and cultural treasures while inviting tourists worldwide. 

The detailed articles and features in The Post have been instrumental in promoting Cambodia as a destination that offers adventure, relaxation and cultural experiences, all anchored in eco-friendly travel practices.

The Post and education

The Post has been instrumental in bringing to light various transformative education initiatives in Cambodia’s rural communities, aiming to enhance access and quality of education in less developed regions. 

A remarkable example is the Kep Gardens Association, established by Australians Andrew and Janine Judd. Located 10km from Kep town in a rural village, the association has been crucial in offering free education to needy rural youths. 

Starting with just 87 students, their focus on English literacy has now expanded to benefit over 300, demonstrating the founders’ commitment to the educational advancement of Cambodian children.

Another featured story is about the Prek Toal Primary School, uniquely situated in the floating villages of the Tonle Sap – Southeast Asia’s largest natural lake spanning five provinces – in Battambang. Here, students travel to school by small boats, and the school exemplifies a learning environment where academic education is harmoniously blended with practical life skills, tailored to its water-centric community.

The Post has also highlighted an important collaboration between the South Korean International Development Agency (KOICA) and the CCF. This partnership has channelled over $1.4 million towards bolstering the education system in 17 rural primary schools in Kratie province’s Chhlong district.

In Kandal province’s Takhmao town, the Hands of Hope Community, an NGO-run special needs education school, was featured for its integration into the state framework, becoming the Takhmao Special Education High School, marking a significant step in inclusive education.