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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Gov’t touts rights record in new videos

Newly appointed head of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee, Keo Remy (right), speaks during a press conference in Tuol Kork earlier this month.
Newly appointed head of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee, Keo Remy (right), speaks during a press conference in Tuol Kork earlier this month. Heng Chivoan

Gov’t touts rights record in new videos

The government, accused recently of launching a “crackdown” on its political opponents, yesterday released two videos touting the improvements made in press freedom and civil liberties in Cambodia.

The short clips, produced by the government’s Cambodian Human Rights Committee, feature narration by Hun Sen, who has ruled the Kingdom as prime minister for more than 30 years.

He notes Cambodia’s media landscape has grown from two newspapers in the 1980s to more than 20 television channels and 800 print and online outlets today, and asks “how could a man be considered a dictator for having developed a state this far”.

In the second, he speaks of Cambodia’s economic development, as images contrast Phnom Penh in the wake of the Khmer Rouge regime and the city today.

“The 7th of January, 1979, has brought all sorts of rights,” the premier notes, referring to the day the Vietnamese-backed invasion force, of which Hun Sen was a senior member, toppled Pol Pot’s regime.

Political commentator Ou Virak said while the “propaganda” held some truth as the economic and media environment had indeed improved in recent decades, it glossed over many issues at the heart of criticism levelled at the government.

Virak, who is facing a defamation suit brought by a ruling party spokesman, said legal pressure was still regularly applied to journalists and critics.

The jailing of five people in relation to a legally questionable case against opposition leader Kem Sokha did little to help the government’s image, he said.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan, however, said criticism was often channelled through “some NGOs”, which he labelled foreign agents.



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Don Rennie's picture

Dear Shaun,

Contrary to the PM's statement, dictators control TV stations and print media. This type of media control is typical in Cambodia.

The CPP is deathly afraid of the CNRP broadcasting on TV.

Civil liberties and freedom of the press have been eroded by local authorities over the past two years. Placing dissenters into jail is a breach of civil liberties and something a dictator who does not respect human rights will do.

The PM's staff, who recently addressed a gathering of the press earlier this month, requested that newspapers refer to the PM in news articles using a title that makes the PM a type of exulted ruler. This type of rhetoric is consistent with a megalomaniac person and is inconsistent with freedom of the press values and principles.

Cambodia is a Kingdom. Nowhere does it's Constitution speak about a PM acting as a dictator. But, this is the case. When the PM opens his mouth, he makes new laws or encourages the police to arrest citizens.

Government criticism is not liked by the CPP. If the CPP was smart and clever, they would listen to dissent and respect civil liberty. Unfortunately, the CPP does not know how to listen and respect the citizens of Cambodia.

If the CPP was really smart, they would not create chaos when protesters gather in front of government buildings and express their view. The chaos creates media attention that is viewed outside of Cambodia.

The majority of Cambodians do not like the CPP or the PM. The CPP and the PM continue to play a losing game. In reality, the PM acts like a dictator.


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