Press Conference: Plan of the Newspaper Distributor Association to Protest against Phnom Penh Municipality

In the afternoon of 15 January, 2008, Club of Cambodian Journalists with support from Konrad Adenauer Foundation organized a special press conference on a plan of members of the Newspaper Distributor Association to protest against the Phnom Penh municipality over removing news’ stands from the street sides without compensation. Eighty-nine news’ stands owners, the members of the Newspaper Distributor Association, gathered at Club of Cambodian Journalists to complain and talk to journalists about what they would face when their news’ stands to be removed.

The conference was made after the municipality had warned many news’ stands owners in Phnom Penh to move from their current locations otherwise the municipality would legally take action to remove them without responsibility for any damage.

Ms. Hok Bunnath, President of the Newspaper Distributor Association, said the plan of the municipality to remove 24 news’ stands on St. 169 is causing her members to loose their small business to support the daily life. She said that her members have made business on the street for years and that what they are going to do when the municipal authority removes them without replacing any location or paying any compensation. She said the cost for installing a news’ stand is about US$3,000. Everyday, we can earn about US$10 a day for selling newspapers and magazines, including other stationary. When the municipality removes us without paying anything and no replaced location, how can we survive? Is this the government policy to reduce poverty among the citizens? she asked.

Echoing Ms. Hok Bunnath, Mr. Ou Tong, one of the news’ stand owners whose news’ stand to be removed very soon, said the authority forced him and other news’ stand owners a few times to stop making business on the street citing on the public disorder. He said he and his members with support  from the Newspaper Distributor Association are joining together to make protest against the authority’s plan if there is no proper solution. We are fighting only for our survival, not for politics. So, we must join together to seek for a good solution. That is why we come here today to tell media so that they can bring our message to the government, especially to the Phnom Penh municipality, he added.

The president of the Newspaper Distributor Association and her members also appealed Prime Minister Hun Sen to interment their case otherwise they would face problem in their daily life.

The conference was successfully ended and the Newspaper Distributor Association agreed to send an official letter to the musicality to deal the problem fairly.

Phnom Penh, 16 January, 2008