The KhmerPost USA is a bi-weekly Cambodian language newspaper published in Lowell and distributed in communities with significantly-sized Cambodian communities up and down the East Coast (I sometimes contribute articles to the paper). In this week’s edition, an editorial by Roger Pin, the newspaper’s publisher, on the two Cambodian monuments being contemplated for Lowell, is printed in Khmer and in English. Because this is an important topic for the entire community, I am posting the English version of the editorial here, with permission from KhmerPost USA:
What is Press Club?
By Pin Samkhon
“Press Club” is misconstrued by some people as a private event which is closed to the public. It is true that journalists may organize their private Press Club. Nonetheless a Press Club is also for collecting the reliable public sources of information which will eventually be published in a responsible news media. Unlike the information on Facebook, such sources are more reasonably objective. Our Press Club is a gift from the Khmer Post to the people of Lowell. They now get their voices heard out loud and meaningfully. Like members of other ethnic groups either they are officials, business-people, the employed or the unemployed of all walks of life they have some form of support to rely upon to defend themselves. This Press Club offers them a space to express themselves freely and responsibly. It helps foster a democratic environment.
Several issues in Lowell need to be addressed through a democratic discussion which is conductive to a promising and legitimate solution for the community. Recently Cambodia Town is considering erecting a monument of Taprum on a piece of land located on the corner of Branch Street and Middlesex Street in the region of the Pailin Plaza. Khmer community members argued that since Cambodia Town is for all, it shall not make any final decisions without getting their opinion. However Cambodia Town has made it clear that the decision has been made. No further opinion needs to be sought. The budget for the monument is a gift from Major General Hun Manet of Cambodia. Period. At the same time another project by the City of Lowell to erect another cultural monument in the front area of the City Hall is in a pipe line. Who wants to build what? At which place?
The Khmer Post USA has launched a Public Forum called “Press Club” to be held on April 9, 2015 from 12-2 pm at the LTC. The main purposes of the event are as follows:
1) To inform or raise awareness to the public of the Prum Bayon monument which is slated to erect in Cambodia town and another project to build a Khmer monument at the City Hall;
2) To offer the space for local people to express their opinions concerning the projects and
3) To publicize the information collected during the Press Club in the Khmer Post or other news media so that the public is well informed.
Public awareness and inclusion in the projects by the Cambodia Town and the City of Lowell will not only make the projects meaningful but it also makes the community feel proud, consent and harmonized. On the contrary if a public project is viewed as having been implemented discretely or lack publicity it is hard not to betray the will of the public. It therefore will eventually create a social misconduct which each leader shall refrain from committing.
When creating the Press Club, the Khmer Post wanted nothing but to lend a hand as a tool for the Khmer community of Lowell which is very divided, weak and vulnerable so that it could be brought back together and to make them stronger and harmonized. This can be done through a fair access to information, openness and respect of public opinion. “Transparency” is the best medicine to bring the society together.