Only one of these is not getting an envelope with cash in it and he's not looking happy about it either! (pic Nick Sells)Whilst I'm on a roll, I posted this piece on my main blog on 9 March but forgot to post it here as well, even though it's essentially football-related. So here goes:
There's a frontpage story in today's Cambodia Daily about what they term envelope journalism which I must admit is something that has really got my goat since I became aware of it. Essentially, its the practice of paying reporters cash to attend media events. So for example, to get newspaper reporters to watch the football at the weekend and to report on it, the football federation has to pay them. The same goes for television reporters. In fact the federation has to pay the tv stations to show live games - which is completely arse about face of what happens in England for example, where the television companies pay a king's ransom for the pleasure of screening live football. The excuse for this practice is that it's seen as a Cambodian tradition, it's a gift to oil the wheels so to speak, even though essentially it's a form of bribery which is regarded as 'grave professional abuse' under the Press Law. Another excuse is that as the journalists are paid so poorly by their employers, this extra support money helps them make ends meet. That may be the case but the integrity, impartiality and professionalism of journalism in Cambodia will never move forwards unless these practices cease and reporters are paid a fair wage for a fair day's work.
Whilst I am in a rare moaning mood, I find it so disappointing that sport in Cambodia's public schools is either non-existent or barely scratches the surface. It's clear to anyone with a brain that providing regular sport and exercise in schools is a winner for all concerned, yet from speaking to many people, they had precisely zero exercise during their schooling days, whether in the city or in a more rural setting. How Cambodia will ever hope to do well on the sporting front if they don't encourage children to get involved and develop an appetite for sport, is beyond me. This should be an essential element of every child's schooling and it should be one of the main goals of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport to make sure it happens. Clearly, from speaking to everyone, that is not happening. Rather than just mouth off about it, I hope to be able to do something constructive in the future through Phnom Penh Crown football club. I'll let you know how this pans out.