D IRECTOR of Cabinet of the Information Ministry Sieng Lapress sent conflicting signals about TV news freedom during an interview with the Post.
First, he said that TV journalists have the same freedom as their colleagues in the press.
"The Information Ministry has never censored TV newscasts. Khmer television has free access to broadcast news like newspapers. This is based on Article 41 in the Constitution," Lapress said.
Article 41 in the Constitution states: "Cambodian citizens shall have freedom of expression, press, publication and association. Nobody shall use these rights to violate the honor of others, disrupt the good tradition of society, public order and nation security. Control of the media shall be in accordance with the law."
But later in the interview he said the government wants TV to play an active role in assisting the government to rehabilitate the country.
He said: "The government wants television to be the government's mouthpiece to broadcast the country's development in every aspect. It is designed to educate people and to concentrate on the fields of economics, sociology, education, development, human rights and health."
Lapress explained the role of Information Ministry is to monitor broadcasting. He said the Ministry has no powers of arrest and that it was up to other ministries or individuals to make complaints.
Lapress said when the Information Ministry has made a complaint to TV editors about reports deemed to be affecting national security, it was acting on the direct order of the Interior Ministry.
He said that sometimes the Information Ministry helps plaintiffs if it believes that reports about them are factually correct.
Print journalists are angry with the Ministry, Lapress said, for what they perceive as a government crackdown. But he said the ministry was not responsible for initiating action against the media. It is only acting as an intermediary between the government and the media.
"If journalists were in the Minister's [Mouly's] shoes they would know the Minister's job. How and how....," Lapress sighed.