The Overseas Press Club of Cambodia – a Brief History

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Kung-fu Hillbilly
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The Overseas Press Club of Cambodia – a Brief History

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Overseas Press Club of Cambodia
Serving Cambodia with quality journalism since 1993

According to French historian Henri Locard, international wire services Reuters, Associated Press (AP), Agence-France Presse (AFP), and United Press International (UPI) had established small bureaus at Hotel le Royale by the early 1960s. No formal club or press association then existed, but the camaraderie was strong, if notorious to the local authorities, with informal sessions at what is now known as the hotel’s Elephant Bar, and lengthy poolside parties which set a benchmark in journalistic traditions.

Reports of Webb’s death were dispatched around the world, but three weeks later she emerged from a communist lair and telephoned UPI from Kampong Speu. She was alive and well and became the toast of an international press corps that had became badly fatigued by the high death rate and had already held her wake. They had an excuse for another drink at le Royale.

Not all left. Sydney Schanberg of the New York Times and photographers Roland Neveu and Al Rockoff were among those who remained behind as Pol Pot’s cadre swept through the capital. They spent two tenuous weeks holed up at the French Embassy before being escorted out of the country.

As the Vietnamese tanks rolled out, foreign correspondents again rolled in and most journalists hung out at the Gecko Bar on Street 110. Then in 1993, the first club for the western press was established by Briton Leo Dobbs of Reuters, American Stefan Ellis from AFP and Australian Mark Dodd of Reuters. It was named The Foreign Correspondents Club of Cambodia (FCCC) and Dobbs was its first president. It occupied a prime location on the corner of 178 Street and Sisowath Quay overlooking the Tonle Sap and Mekong River. Operations of the bar was contracted out.

As the political landscape changed so did the relationship between the FCCC and Indochina Assets, the company contracted to run the bar. Tensions grew and the company that ran the bar astonished many by trademarking the name FCCC and bluntly telling the journalists to change their club’s name after registering not only the FCCC brand name but several other similar sounding names as well.

The idea that seeing the world is going from place to place to look at obvious things is an illusion natural to dull minds.
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