Originally scheduled to close at the end of this week, the newspaper Evening News has already shuttered its doors and sent its employees looking for new work.
“We were told to stop working last Monday so that we could look for another job. But so far, I have not found one yet,” said one former employee who requested anonymity.
The Evening News, a Khmer-language daily operated by the ruling CPP, was established Jan 7, 1997. From its inception, the CPP has used it as an organ to inform the public about its plans and activities.
The newspaper’s staff said they were saddened by the closing of the daily, especially since they had believed that income was on the upswing, but the paper’s owners said it was losing more than $5,000 per month and had to be shut down.
But some employees said they were skeptical of those claims, and they attributed the closure to a rift between Evening News editors and CPP officials.
“Occasionally, we got admonishments from some advisers [of Prime Minister Hun Sen] for writing short stories about CPP activities in the paper,” the employee said. “I just heard there were differences between the editorial staff and the leadership.”
Another former employee said the company in charge of the newspaper is claiming bankruptcy, but is still managing the Bayon printing house along with Bayon radio and television.
Company officials say they will obey Cambodia’s labor law and pay their 25 former employees three months’ salary when the paper officially folds. The paper’s six reporters were each paid between $100 and $120 per month, while the editors each made between $130 and $150.
In any case, the staff is in no position to quarrel with the company over the closure or over compensation, one former employee said.
“We don’t dare protest against them for compensation,” the employee said. “We did not even ask for pay for our annual holidays that we did not take.”