The Cambodian Blogger (or Clogger) summit, which began earnestly in 2007 brought together a nascent group of Cambodian and foreign bloggers to explore the possibilities, technologies and contentions of blogging in Cambodia. Unfortunately I was unable to attend, but more details can be found here.
Despite the alleged murder of particularly outspoken journalists, and Cambodia’s continued blacklisting by press freedom watchdogs such as the Cambodian Human Rights Committee and the New York based Committee to Protect Journalism, for now Cambodia’s blogosphere remains a bastion of free speech. Cambodian websites and blogs are abuzz and largely free from government censorship and other such draconian internet crackdowns that plague its so called more developed neighbour, Thailand.
Indeed “cloggers” have recently been attributed in an article by Geoffrey Cain with sparking and upholding a renaissance of Cambodian intellectualism, which unlike the Francophile cafe society that dominated Cambodian intellectual culture of the 1960s, today is largely influenced by American internet culture and technology. A promising sign indeed for a country so often noted as a de facto autocratic state despite democratic appearances. Yet such an interpretation is perhaps a little too optimistic given that less than 2 per cent have access to the internet and most blogs are written in English.
With stilted shacks and slums lined along Phnom Penh’s dirt roads, and a populace of which 33% earn less that $0.50 a day according to optimistic government statistics, Cambodia is remarkably wired….Even though only 2 per cent of Cambodian have regular Internet access on computers, the urban blogging craze can be partly attributed to Cambodia’s widespread mobile-phone culture that also offers mobile Internet access. Only a high rural illiteracy rate of 75% stands in the way to larger change.
75 per cent is a big “only” in my books and is perhaps what keeps “cloggers” largely free from government harassment and potential assassination. Only time, GDP growth and increased rural development and education will tell whether the “clogosphere” remains a sanctum of free speech or not.
List of Cambodian blogs on my regular reading list
Please feel free to suggest your own favourites.