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Veteran Journalist, Saing Soenthrith, Dies Aged 55


FILE: Cambodian Veteran Journalist Saing Soenthrith sat at his desk at the Cambodia Daily's newsroom on November 03, 2014. (Photo by Neou Vannarin)

He was a founding member of the Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ), an advocacy group for journalists and promoter of quality reporting.

A veteran Cambodian journalist and former Cambodia Daily reporter, Saing Soenthrith, has died. He was 55.

Soenthrith worked as a journalist for more than 20 years, writing extensively on governance and corruption in Cambodia.

He was a founding member of the Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ), an advocacy group for journalists and promoter of quality reporting.

He died from kidney failure on Saturday after a decade-long battle with diabetes.

Saing Seila, his eldest son, remembered his father as a patriot who hoped to improve the nation through his work.

“I admire him for the fact that he loves the nation very much. He is willing to give away just about anything to see his nation grow and the young generation in his homeland become educated,” he said.

“He said that even though he couldn't help much, he would still try his best to teach the young generation to love the country. He always told me ‘do whatever you want, just don't hurt others for your own enjoyment.”

Soenthrith was also a volunteer English teacher and helped build a small school for rural children in Kandal province, where he lived during the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s.

During the Khmer Rouge reign, he was orphaned. He managed to get an education with the support of local monks, later receiving a scholarship to study in the Soviet Union in the 1980s and becoming a reporter in the 1990s.

In an article published by the BBC in 2010, he said he wanted “the truth” about the Khmer Rouge atrocities to come out and to ask the regime’s surviving leaders “why they killed their own nation”.

Over the past three years, Soenthrith needed constant dialysis, but his family could not afford the treatment. He received financial support from his friends and former colleagues, both local and foreign journalists, government officials and even Prime Minister Hun Sen.

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