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RSF AWARDS GRANTS TO JOURNALISTS IN SOUTHEAST ASIA

Journalists from four Southeast Asian countries were awarded grants from Reporters sans frontières (RSF). Moe Aye of Burma, Fathi Aris Omar of Malaysia, Ham Kak of Cambodia, and a journalist from Vietnam who remains anonymous for security reasons, were recognised with the grants. The recipients were selected due to "their commitment to press freedom in countries where it is not respected by the authorities," says RSF. These journalists have also struggled financially due to their commitment to "maintain an independent editorial line." Through the grants, which consist of US$1,000 each, RSF hopes to contribute to "the consolidation of an independent private press in Southeast Asia."

Moe Aye of Burma is a Bangkok correspondent of the Oslo-based radio station Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), occasional writer for Thailand's "The Nation", and author of two books on torture and prison conditions in Burma. Having spent six years in prison for criticising the military junta, and for his involvement with the National League for Democracy (NLD), he has lived in exile in Thailand since 1997. Fathi Aris Omar of Malaysia ceased working for newspapers affiliated with the government to become a leading staff member of the online daily Malaysiakini. Ham Kak of Cambodia is a journalist for the Khmer-language weekly "Sakarach Thmei" ("The New Era") and Fellow of the Royal University of Phnom Penh. Since "Sakarach Thmei" was forced to cease publishing due to financial difficulties, Ham Kak has been working with a group of young journalists to relaunch the weekly.

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