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Journos demand apology

Members of the press gather at the entrance to the Senate in Phnom Penh as politicians depart after a political meeting in 2014.
Members of the press gather at the entrance to the Senate in Phnom Penh as politicians depart after a political meeting in 2014. Heng Chivoan

Journos demand apology

A group representing more than 20 media organisations yesterday appealed for the government to intervene after commentators on Radio ABC Cambodia described journalists as “thieves”.

The group, including the Union of Journalist Federations of Cambodia, penned a letter urging Information Minister Khieu Kanharith to immediately “educate” staff of Radio ABC 107.5, claiming they had smeared journalists and public officials alike in recent days.

The letter requested a public apology from ABC Radio owner Seng Bunveng, known by the nickname “Aja A”, pointing out that the station had slammed doctors as “terrible”, KTV workers as “prostitutes” and journalists as “thieves”.

Aja A could not be reached yesterday but, in one of the offending commentaries, said “everyone knows that some journalists extort the money illegally”, and suggested journalists wrote favourable reports only when they were presented with envelopes full of cash.

Moeun Chhean Nariddh, director of the Cambodian Institute for Media Studies, said that while it was not fair to paint all journalists with the same brush, many were indeed extortionists or thieves, as the radio commentators claimed.

“Some journalists in the provinces are not on payroll, so they try to make a little bit of money, for example, by taking bribes from illegal timber traders or other businesses.”

He also noted that journalists demanding a public apology or filing a lawsuit – also flagged as an option – was counter to their mandate. “We are in the profession that promotes freedom of expression . . . They may ask for a correction or they can issue a statement to clarify.”

Additional reporting by Erin Handley

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