Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - In Khmer news outlets, a different election tale

In Khmer news outlets, a different election tale

In Khmer news outlets, a different election tale

Sunday's strong showing by the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party and the dramatic shrinking of the ruling party’s once-dominant lead in National Assembly seats made for easy headlines for foreign news outlets covering Sunday’s election.

For local media, however, outlets often affiliated to one degree or another with the government, framing the poll’s surprising results proved somewhat trickier.

A glowing feature on the Deum Ampil News website yesterday touted the Cambodian People’s Party’s overall election victory and the continuation of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s now 28-year rule.

It dedicated just a sentence or two to the 26 new seats claimed by the CNRP.

Koh Santepheap, meanwhile, focused on individual provincial results, limiting the broad strokes to the fact the CPP had, in fact, won enough seats to set up a new government.

The Cambodia Express News website published a slew of election results provided by the National Election Committee, each focusing on positives for the ruling party.

The CPP’s loss of one seat in Siem Reap, for instance, was quickly followed by an explanation that the CPP had won the province by four seats to the CNRP’s two.

An employee working for the CEN website who declined to be named yesterday told the Post there was a simple explanation for that – they were ordered to report more heavily on the CPP than the opposition.

“We cannot do whatever we want, because the higher-up website managers order the lower staff to report and post more stories about the CPP,” he said.

“Most of the local media are managed by the ruling party, and we follow orders from our superiors.”

Many state and private television stations limited their coverage to broadcasting the CPP’s declaration of victory yesterday, in which they asked people to remain calm and not incite violence.

The one Khmer television outlet offering full results, TVK, offered them via a marathon broadcast in which hosts recited a commune-by-commune breakdown.

With the vast majority of media dominated by the government or those with ties to them, it is unsurprising to see such a skew, said journalism trainer Chhay Sohpal, who is also the editor-in-chief of Cambodia News.

Many local reporters, he said, are simply doing what they are told.

“The main problem is that some media organisation owners are close to government officials and must report in favour of the ruling party,” Sophal said.

Journalists who fail to do so risk losing their jobs, while their outlets risk losing their licences, he said.

A report published earlier this year by the Cambodian Center for Independent Media pointed to self-censorship as one of the biggest stumbling blocks to a more independent press.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MELISSA MCMORRAN

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all