On 10 May at around 6 PM, a media student of Reach Sambath wrote on her lecturer’s Facebook profile that “Dear Lokru [lecturer or teacher], I hope you are fine now. We are worrying about you. Take care our dear lecturer”.
Largely known for nurturing and mentoring young Cambodian journalists, Reach Sambath’s death shocked his students and friends. Through the Internet, they quickly learned of his suffering of a stroke and staying a hospital in Phnom Penh.
On 11 May at 9 PM, another online friend, who regards Sambath as an uncle, posted on the site saying that “I’m so sorry to hear that na lork Pou!! I will remember you and yr kindness forever… Please rest in peace…:’(”.
Reach Sambath’s Facebook friends were among the first to learn of his being hospitalized at Calmet hospital in the Cambodian capital. Following the breaking news on Facebook, people who had met Sambath in person or through the networking site started to flood his Facebook profile with notes praying for his quick recovery. Friends who couldn’t visit him at the hospital turned to Facebook and prayed for him and call for donations to help his family cover the expense. It’s the last best hope for the survival of the much-loved family man, who’s survived by his wife and three children.
Reach Sambath, 47, is more respected for being a ‘Lok Krou’ (teacher or lecturer) among media students, young reporters and people working in the mainstream media in Cambodia.
Before falling sick, he served as a chief of public affairs for the United Nations-backed tribunal. On 9 May, a day before the stroke attack, he posted pictures from his field trip to a university in Battambang province where he helped raise awareness of the Khmer Rouge tribunal.
In the last few years Sambath began posting old memoirs mostly captured through his camera lens. On his Facebook profile, there are more than six hundred photos that could well describe his work as a reporter, lecturer, spokesman and good friend of many.
Sambath’s contribution to the Cambodian media in the last two decade will continue to inspire journalism students and working reporters here. In a blog post, journalism student Sun Narin wrote that
We are really saddened to hear about the demise of our respectful lecturer Reach Sambath. We had honor to know him and had the greatest respect for him. He was a really good guy that we remember his goodness to us. We spent our time with him last year both in academic and social life.
Another junior student, Koam Tivea, posted his condolence message saying “You are an inspiration. You made us laugh and enjoy the study with you all the time. You motivated us to work harder to get bright future and of course work to help the society. I can’t say anything more”.
On 12 May, an entry about Reach Sambath on Wikipedia, the world’s largest and free encyclopedia, was appeared on the Internet serving anyone to learn more about Reach Sambath. His former students began to posted his favorite most picture with an old bicycle he once used to earn a living.
On 15 May, Sambath’s former student wrote: “Whenever I log into Facebook, I feel so sad for everyone’s status reminds me that I have lost my dearest lecturer. That sucks and hurts”.
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