News / Asia

    Independent Cambodian Radio Station Runs Without Jailed Owner

    PHNON PENH — Independent radio station owner Mam Sonando is in a Cambodian prison awaiting trial on charges of insurrection.  He was Beehive Radio’s sole reporter, and its main on-air personality.  But while he is gone from the airwaves, he has not been forgotten - especially among the station’s loyal listeners.

    A few days a week, radio station owner Mam Sonando would go on air to talk to callers.  Now, the station and its listeners have to do without him, as he sits in prison across town.

    The DJ who's taking calls says Beehive is carrying on.

    “There is no effect to the station's operations.  It's a personal matter for the president.  All the staff comes to work normally. Many staffers respect the station rules; we're not afraid at all,” Phiev said.

    Beehive is one of the few independent media outlets in Cambodia, where many stations are controlled by political parties.  Its broadcasts have won praise from rights activists for championing causes that other stations ignore.  It also carries Voice of America programming.
     
    Callers used to have conversations with the owner about social issues and injustice.  Now, Mam Sonando has become the subject of the shows he once hosted.

    “I ask the government to release Mam Sonando, offer him freedom.  We are his guarantors, we are 100,000 people and we will take his place in prison,” one caller said.

    This is a somewhat familiar situation for Mam Sonando, who was imprisoned twice before for his reporting. This time he faces up to 30 years in prison for allegedly attempting to form a secession movement.
     
    His supporters say he is being targeted for criticism of the Cambodian government and of rights abuses by the powerful.  Prime Minister Hun Sen dismisses the allegation.
     
    Mam Sonando's wife, Din Phanara, has taken over leading the station.  She says his absence has been a big change.

    “Because Mam Sonando is like the heart of the station,” she said.

    She is dismissive of the court case against her husband - as well as even the idea that he could be planning a secession in rural Kratie in Cambodia’s northeast.
     
    “How do we lead an insurrection just with two, three farmers earning a living feeding chickens and pigs?  How do we secede?  It is not true.  It is not possible,” she said.

    The court has not yet set a date for trial.  And as Beehive goes on without its primary voice, the man behind it sits in pretrial detention, and his supporters worry about his health.

    You May Like

    UN Observes International Day of Peacekeepers

    The U.N. honors 3,400 peacekeepers killed since first mission in 1948

    Video Rolling Thunder Tribute to US Military Turns into a Trump Rally

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora