The Ministry of Interior (MoI) has issued an order Nov 26 to all civil servants and
police that forbids them from providing documents or speaking to "people outside
[the ministry]" without a letter of permission from one of the co-ministers,
or from Hok Lundy, the director-general of police.
The instruction letter states this is to prevent officials who "lack responsibility"
and "disobey discipline" from sending out documents without authority.
It was signed by co-ministers Sar Kheng and You Hokry in late November. Neither Hok
Lundy nor the co-ministers were available for comment.
The letter explains the move is, "To strengthen discipline and keep [the] dignity
of the nation, the civil servants and national police."
It states that staff who speak without authority or disseminate information are in
breach of the 1994 civil servants law, and stresses they will be punished whether
or not their actions are deliberate.
A senior police official, who asked not to be named, said police could still provide
media with background information about crimes or accidents such as victims' names,
but felt the rule was needed to stop important information being leaked.
"The rule of my boss is correct," he said. "Some information is secret
so we must have the right [to speak] from the top. If some police talk to journalists
the suspects escape, so we prohibit them [from speaking]."
He denied the order would stifle journalists' ability to inform the public, and said
reporters could still "go to the place where something happened and find out
"We still cooperate with journalists," he said.