​Never a dull second: 25 years of momentous events | Phnom Penh Post

Never a dull second: 25 years of momentous events


Publication date
09 July 2017 | 12:47 ICT

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Monks pray in front of the Chaktomuk Theatre during a peaceful protest in September 2013.

Cambodia’s evolution as a country has seen more than its share of historic moments – and The Phnom Penh Post has been there for the past 25 years to document every cause, crisis and celebration. Here, we revisit the nation’s most significant events during The Post’s era.

July 1992

The first edition of The Phnom Penh Post is published; all 6,000 copies of the eight-page newspaper are printed in Bangkok and lugged manually back to Phnom Penh because of the scarcity of printers in Cambodia. 

January 1993

UN civilian agencies and NGOs request a public meeting to discuss election progress and the misconduct of UN peacekeepers, in which the UN secretary-general’s special representative to Cambodia, Yasushi Akashi, sparked outrage when he said it was only “natural” for soldiers in the field to chase “young beautiful beings of the opposite sex”.

May 1993

General election brings Hun Sen and Prince Ranariddh as co-prime ministers into coalition government after Hun Sen and the CPP refuse to accept election results that favour the royalist Funcinpec party. Cambodia becomes a kingdom again under the new constitution. 

September 1993

UNTAC dissolved, and a new constitution is promulgated, establishing a multiparty liberal democracy in the framework of a constitutional monarchy.  Funcinpec and the CPP share power in the new Royal Cambodian Government.

April 1994

Two young Britons and an Australian are kidnapped and later killed by the Khmer Rouge after the British and Australian governments refused to pay £100,000 in ransom, offering instead to provide food and medical supplies. 

July 1994

Khmer Rouge holds hostage an Australian, a Briton and a Frenchman – all backpackers aboard a train towards Kampot province – and kills them in September in the belief they were “spies” for Vietnam. News of their murder trickles back into Phnom Penh only in October.

March 1996

Mine clearance expert Christopher Howes, and his translator, are murdered by the Khmer Rouge on direct orders from Pol Pot, who claimed that all foreigners in the country were helping the Cambodian government. 

March 1997

Four grenades thrown into a crowd during a Sam Rainsy-led demonstration at the National Assembly in Phnom Penh kill 16, with 150 injured. Soldiers present allow grenade-throwing suspects to pass through to safe grounds, but block passersby from assisting the wounded. 

July 1997

Forces loyal to Hun Sen and Prince Ranariddh clash in factional streetfighting. Ranariddh leaves Cambodia for France, accuses Hun Sen of staging a coup, while the latter claims that Ranariddh had been negotiating with the Khmer Rouge and trying to smuggle defectors into Phnom Penh.

April 1998

Pol Pot dies, still defiant in death  for refusing to atone for his four-year reign of terror that killed more than a million of his people. 

Pol Pot's death in 1998. Photo supplied

May 1998

Ranariddh is pardoned by King Sihanouk, returns to Cambodia.

July 1998

The CPP triumphs over Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party in national elections, taking a majority of the seats in parliament despite controversies over irregularities and seat allocation.

April 1999

Cambodia becomes the 10th member state of ASEAN.

December 2001

First Mekong bridge opens in Cambodia.

February 2002

Cambodia’s first commune elections held, with the CPP winning a vast majority.

March 2002

Actress Angelina Jolie adopts a Cambodian child, prompting controversy in the United States when allegations were made that she had paid the child’s birth parents to give him up.

January 2003

Rock star pedophile Gary Glitter is deported from Cambodia.

January 2003

Military planes fly hundreds of Thais out of Phnom Penh after violent demonstrations over the control of Angkor Wat.

August 2003

Prime Minister Hun Sen and his CPP again win general elections.

January 2004

Labour leader Chea Vichea, affiliated with an opposition party, is shot dead in Phnom Penh. The killing is widely believed to be a political assassination, and Vichea’s true killer was never arrested.

June 2004

Cambodia’s two main political parties announce a power-sharing deal, ending an 11-month political deadlock.

Daily chaos and confusion were not in shortage when the United Nations entered Cambodia. Tim Page

October 2004

National Assembly ratifies agreement with the United Nations to establish a tribunal trying senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge.

October 2004

King Sihanouk abdicates.

October 2004

Norodom Sihamoni becomes king.

February 2005

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy goes into self-exile after his parliamentary is stripped. Rainsy was facing multiple criminal defamation charges.

March 2005

Twenty convicts killed escaping from jail in Kampong Cham.

June 2005

Two-year-old Canadian boy killed at an international school in Siem Reap after gunmen takes dozens of pupils and teachers hostage.

July 2006

Khmer Rouge “butcher” Ta Mok, also known as Brother Number Five who assisted in the death of 1.7 million Cambodians, dies.

June 2007

Twenty-two people killed when a plane crashes near Bokor Mountain.

December 2007

Michael Hayes sells The Phnom Penh Post to Ross Dunkley, Bill Clough, and Kevin Murphy.

 August 2008

The Phnom Penh Post upgrades from being a fortnightly publication and begins publishing daily.

February 2009

UN-backed trials of senior Khmer Rouge leaders begin, with S-21 chief Duch the first to be tried.

September 2009

The Phnom Penh Post starts its daily Khmer edition.

October 2009

Overloaded ferry sinks on the Mekong, killing 17.

July 2010

Comrade Duch found guilty of crimes against humanity.

September 2010

War crimes tribunal indicts four former Khmer Rouge leaders.

November 2010

Diamond Island tragedy – more than 350 people are stampeded to death on a crowded bridge during Water Festival celebrations.

July 2011

Cambodia’s stock exchange opens.

February 2012

Cambodia takes the chair of Asean.

April 2012

Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority becomes the first company to list on the Cambodian Stock Exchange.

April 2012

Environmental and anti-logging activist Chut Wutty shot dead.

July 2012

The Phnom Penh Post celebrates 20 years.

July 2012

The country’s two largest opposition parties, the Human Rights Party and the Sam Rainsy Party, merge to form the Cambodia National Rescue Party.

October 2012

King Father Norodom Sihanouk dies of a heart attack, aged 89, prompting a nationwide outpouring of grief.

July 2013

Facing a unified opposition in national elections for the first time in decades, the CPP suffers heavy losses to the newly formed CNRP, but holds on to power. Allegations of irregularities prompt an opposition boycott of parliament.

September 2013

As post-election protests continue, police forces open fire into a crowd of people during a roadblock clash at Kbal Thnal overpass, killing one bystander.

December 2013

Maps released show Cambodia’s forests in a dire state, with more than three-fifths having been deforested.

Water cannons were blasted at anti-eviction protesters in Phnom Penh in 2013. Pha Lina

January 2014

Five killed and dozens wounded in garment factory protests after soldiers use automatic weapons on crowds of demonstrators.

January 2014

A day after the garment protests were dispersed, an opposition sit-in at Freedom Park was brutally routed by masked thugs.

June 2014

Migrant Cambodians facing rising hostility from Thais after Thailand’s May military coup results in 225,000 workers deported in caged government trucks.

July 2014

After a year of boycotting, the opposition CNRP agree to join the National Assembly after a political deal is struck to reform the NEC and release several jailed opposition lawmakers.

December 2014

Mass HIV outbreak in Battambang after unlicensed “doctor” admits to reusing needles.

May 2015

Russian fugitive tycoon Sergei Polonsky is arrested and set to be deported after more than a year of dodging extradition requests from the Russian government for fraud and embezzlement.

June 2015

Four Nauru refugees arrive on Cambodian soil as part of a controversial deal signed between the Kingdom and Australia in 2014.

October 2015

Two CNRP lawmakers are brutally beaten outside the National Assembly by pro-government protesters – later revealed to be soldiers from the PM’s Bodyguard Unit, who were promoted upon their release from prison.

March 2016

A series of leaked phone calls between CNRP leader Kem Sokha and an alleged mistress set off a legal firestorm, enthusiastically pursued by the ACU and anti-terror officials, that also engulfs five current and former rights workers, among others.

July 2016

Global Witness report titled Hostile Takeover: The Corporate Empire of Cambodia’s Ruling Party lays bare the vast holdings of the Hun Sen clan rife with nepotism and massive fortunes

July 2016

Prominent political activist Kem Ley is shot dead in broad daylight at a Caltex station, shocking the nation and heightening political tension.

Political analyst Kem Ley is mourned by his widow after he was shot dead in broad daylight in 2016. Pha Lina

July 2016

Cambodia graduates from low-income country to lower-middle income nation.

March 2017

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, who served in the Cabinet since 2004, dies in China, aged 66

June 2017

The CNRP, contesting its first commune elections, makes large gains, securing about 44 percent  of the popular vote. The CPP, however, still wins the vast majority of communes.

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