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Gov’t backs down on ‘samdech’ directive

Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at the 25th World Economic Forum in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur earlier this year. AFP
Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at the 25th World Economic Forum in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur earlier this year. AFP

Gov’t backs down on ‘samdech’ directive

Prime Minister Hun Sen has U-turned on a directive to media outlets to use the honorific “samdech”, less than a day after the Ministry of Information issued a final warning to non-complying media.

In a comment on his Facebook page on Friday, Hun Sen wrote: “The exact title of a government leader is not necessarily required when writing if the media don’t want to use it. But please write in a way that respects the code of ethics and with proper sources in order to avoid inaccurate information.”

The change of heart came a day after Global Witness published a new report exposing the prime minister’s family’s vast business empire.

Ministry of Information spokesman Ouk Kimseng confirmed the title “samdech”, meaning “outstanding leadership and love from the people”, was no longer to be imposed by the government.

Cambodian Centre for Independent Media executive director Pa Nuong Thea welcomed the move, saying forcing journalists to use “samdech” violated their freedom of choice.

Additional reporting by Vong Sokheng

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