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Foreign press ‘interfering’: CPP lawmaker

A senior ruling party official yesterday accused foreign journalists and media outlets in Cambodia of interfering in the Kingdom’s governance and urging political instability.

Speaking to reporters in the capital, Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker and National Assembly spokesman Chheang Vun said a number of journalists – including from the Post – needed to review their approach to reporting issues in Cambodia or face possible legal action.

“[I] would like to tell the foreign press that have interfered deeply in political governance in Cambodia, please think about this carefully,” he said, adding that those reporting in Cambodia needed to decide whether they were journalists or political activists. “This is not a threat – it is a request for them to be professional.”

But Vun singled out the Post as an example of a media outlet that must “take responsibility” for their reporting or face the consequences.

The Phnom Penh Post must write properly what I said. If they write it wrong, I will take them to court,” he said.

Vun also said that some journalists were “urging violence”, but did not specify whether they worked for local or foreign-owned outlets.

Media analyst Moeun Chhean Nariddh, director of the Cambodia Institute for Media Studies, was not surprised by Vun’s targeting of media outlets that the government doesn’t control.

“I think the [communist] mentality has continued with some officials, and lawmakers who think that any media outlet that does not support the CPP is against them,” he said.

Chhean Nariddh said he had not seen examples of foreign media in Cambodia interfering in issues of governance.

“I have followed international journalism practices here for more than 20 years,” he said. “What international presses have done in Cambodia is follow [international standards]. We’re lucky to have international media organisations … working as role models for local journalists and media outlets.”

Pa Nguon Tieng, president of the Cambodian Center for Independent Media, said the focus of international media outlets was not where Vun suggested it was.

“If [foreign or independent] news outlets are not reporting the news that is happening, in the long run, they won’t get advertising,” he said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHANE WORRELL

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