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Media development in transitional democratic Cambodia

Feudal kingdom, French protectorate, modern constitutional monarchy, republic, extreme socialist (Khmer Rouge) and UN mandate – these are a few of the diverse political structures Cambodia has endured and evolved through in its long history. When the Paris Peace Accords were finally signed on 23 October 1991, Cambodia took its first steps as a democratic nation. Twenty years have passed since and while remarkable progress has been made, the country has a long road to travel yet towards democracy.

The media is a powerful tool and has long been understood as an essential building block of democracy. The concept of a free, independent and plural media – as opposed to a media that acts as a propaganda machine – is just as new to Cambodia as the democratic political system it arrived with. As such, the media too has seen remarkable growth – and it too has a long road to travel yet before it can fulfil its ‘watchdog’ role.

This thesis explores the development of the media in transitional democratic Cambodia. It looks at how the media landscape has changed over the last 20 years (what has been the successes and failures and what are the ongoing challenges); the roles of the various stakeholders critical to the evelopment of the media (government, media themselves and development partners); and it assesses five areas critical to the establishment of an independent and sustainable media: the space for free expression, media professionalism, plurality, business management and supporting institutions. In doing so, the link between a public sphere and good governance is emphasised, the important role of the media in state reconstruction reinforced, and the western neoliberal agenda critically explored with a view to how it may be influencing current-day Cambodian political ideology and development.

Through a series of qualitative interviews with a range of media stakeholders, the ultimate conclusion of this thesis is that the media landscape in Cambodia is diverse – with some (mostly foreign-owned and run) able to operate freely and independently, while others (most local Khmer media, particularly broadcast media) are not. While media development activities over the course of the last 20 years have been clearly beneficial to improving the quality of the media, many factors are preventing all media in Cambodia from becoming free, independent and sustainable. A lack of political will, improper legal intimidation, politicisation of the media, a lack of journalistic ethic and professionalism (among some), unsupportive institutional frameworks, media illiteracy among the broader population and little coordination of media development efforts are just some of the barriers that hinder real improvement in this critical sector.

Efforts to improve the media landscape in Cambodia must be conducted alongside other efforts to continue the transition to democracy as these efforts will – and must – overlap if Cambodia and its media are to become truly democratic.

Author: Casey McCarthy  

HD PDF New Media development in transitional democratic Cambodia (1804)

Allah and Micro-Finance? Investigating Islamic Banking Principles in Indonesia’s Microfinance Sector, and its Potential for Economic Empowerment

Poverty is widely conceived to be the largest moral and economic challenge of this century, and thus it comes as no surprise that the first Millennium Development Goal attempts to tackle the issue of poverty eradication. One increasingly significant instrument of poverty alleviation and community development is that of microcredit and microsavings, popularized by Professor Muhammed Yunus and the Grameen Bank.

However in Indonesia alone over half of the national population live on -or under- a mere US 2% daily.The successful establishment of microfinance institutions in the Muslim world could prove to be a valuable asset in the fight against poverty. However, an additional obstacle is posed by Islamic shariah which challenges conventional banking principles, mandating and promoting its own Islamic banking principles instead.

In this paper, the main question that will be addressed is whether the application of Islamic banking principles to microfinance in Indonesia has been more beneficial in promoting economic growth among the Muslim poor than conventional microfinance practices. And further, what this application can imply for the rest of the Muslim world.

Author:Amina Samy

HD PDF NewAllah and Micro-Finance? Investigating Islamic Banking Principles in Indonesia's Microfinance Sector, and its Potential for Economic Empowerment (1993)

Can Zardari uphold Pakistani Democracy?

On Tuesday 9th September 2008 Asif Ali Zardari the husband of the former two times Prime Minister the late Benazir Bhutto was sworn in as President of Pakistan. In a special article for Hii Dunia Faisal Hanif asseses Zardari’s past and asks if Pakistan’s first democractic leader this century is fit and able enough to guide this most fragile of democracies through possibly its most difficult of days.

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One of our nearest biological relatives, the Orang-utan, is facing extinction because of deforestation taking place to make way for palm oil plantations. Recent Greenpeace analysis and investigations confirm that expansion in these plantations is having a serious impact on the Orang-utans habitat.

Kate Leslie investigates how palm oil concessions are destroying the Orang-utans habitat and causing climate change.

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