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Cambodian envoy raps BBC report

The Cambodian ambassador to the United Kingdom has lashed out at the BBC over a recent radio documentary that explored foreign investment in Cambodia and the pilfering of land from rural communities.

In a letter sent yesterday to BBC Radio 4, Ambassador Hor Nambora said the broadcast gave a “superficial appearance of being unbiased” but that its intention was to “discredit the Royal Government of Cambodia and sully its reputation”.

Hor Nambora said the documentary bore an “uncomfortable similarity” to accusations levelled against the Cambodian government by Global Witness, a London-based international watchdog.

“One can only hope that the BBC has not been misled by this politically-motivated and discredited body which seems to specialise in spouting ever more irresponsible statements and misinformation,” the letter read.

The radio programme, titled “Cambodia: Country for Sale,” looked at the Kingdom’s boom in foreign investment and its repercussions in rural areas. A BBC website article that accompanied the documentary said, “stories are filtering in from the country’s most impoverished farmers who tell of fear, violence and intimidation as private companies team up with armed police to force them from their land”.

In his letter, Hor Nambora highlighted how the government is speeding the process of land registration, saying that “more than two million such land deeds have been dispatched”.

The Cambodian Ambassador’s comments are just the latest in a long series of attacks against Global Witness and the BBC. In 2009 he derided a BBC report on land disputes as “extremely one-sided”, and has lobbed similar criticisms at journalists from The Guardian and The Financial Times.

In April, Hor Nambora issued a statement condemning Global Witness after the watchdog said a US$28 million payment made by a French oil company for exploration rights lacked transparency.

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