Mam Sonando, 73, is the founder and president of the Beehive Radio station (Sambok Khmum radio) FM105 MHz.that he launched in 1995 in Phnom Penh. The son of a lawyer, Sonando grew up in Cambodia and immigrated to France at 22, where he studied photography and film making. Sonando returned to Cambodia in 1994 and decided to create a radio to help Cambodians understand their rights. He used Beehive radio to advertise for his political party, Beehive Democratic Society Party, as he was running for the 1998 Parliamentary elections. The party was disbanded after failing to win any National Assembly seats.
Between 2003 and 2013, Sonando has been imprisoned three times on charges related to his reporting. In 2003, he was arrested for "inciting riots", in 2005 for defamation, and in 2012 for insurrection. The latter led him to a twenty-year prison sentence, which was overturned by an appeals court in March 2013. Sonando was then instead given a five-year suspended sentence on charges of causing civil unrest.
In 2010, Sonando created the Association of Democrats, an NGO meant to create a new political party to initially stand in elections. While Sonando publicly expressed his support to the CNRP and called Cambodians to vote for it in the 2013 elections, he revised his opinion and recently stated that he would create a political party to run in the 2018 elections. A lawsuit is however pending to dissolve this party.
Sonando’s wife, Dinn Phannara, holds the license for Beehive radio according to the Ministry of Information. Sonando is a dual French-Cambodian citizen.
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Dinn Phannara - Sonando’s wife, holds the license for Beehive radio according to the Ministry of Information