SOPA award winner says patience and ethics is key to investigative stories

Reported by Michael Shum and Kenji Chan

Edited by Nicole Kwok

Aun Pheap, reporter at The Cambodia Daily and co-winner of the SOPA Award for Excellence in investigative reporting, said doing an investigative story could be dangerous and demanding, but staying patient and ethical is crucial in getting the story done.


Being a journalist in Cambodia, Pheap sees how corrupted the Cambodian government is.


He had once entered a military area with his colleagues in Zsombor, where they found a bunch of luxury-grade timber stocked there. They were discovered by the military and were arrested as well as interrogated.


"The military officials said they would not allow us to leave if we don't reveal our intentions. We disclosed our identities as journalists," said Pheap, "they suddenly became friendly to us."


"They invited us for coffee and offered gasoline, hoping that we will not write anything about the luxury wood stocked in the military base," he added.


"The military commander found us a driver to a guest house, but we left the city right after the driver drove away, for we are afraid of the commander changing his mind. After that, we put everything into the article." said Pheap.


He also received a direct request from a government official before, asking him not to publish an negative coverage on government officials. But instead of giving in, he reported the situation to his chief-editor. The Daily decided to disclose that whole conversation between him and the government official to the public.


"I always got hung up on after revealing that I am a journalist," Pheap added. "Government officials will call and scold us with very bad words."


"However, I usually try to stay friendly. I want them to answer my questions," he said.


Pheap wrote an investigative story on wood smuggling and corrupted military with his colleague Zsombor Peter, winning their SOPA Award for Excellence in investigative reporting this year.

《The Young Reporter》

The Young Reporter (TYR) is an English news publication produced by international journalism students at Hong Kong Baptist University. It started as a printed magazine in 1969. Today, TYR is produced across different platforms.


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