THE publisher of opposition-aligned Moneaksekar Khmer newspaper has been granted permission to relaunch the daily more than six months after he ceased publication in response to the threat of criminal prosecution.
Dam Sith, the paper’s publisher and editor in chief, said he received permission from the Ministry of Information on Friday and expected publication to restart next month.
“I am now preparing relaunch,” he said Sunday, adding that the new-look daily would maintain its strong opposition stance. “I will keep the same position that was published before in order to keep our readership,” he said.
In July, government lawyers filed defamation, disinformation and incitement charges against Dam Sith for a series of articles criticising government officials. Dam Sith then wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen with a “sincere apology” and promised to stop publishing in exchange for a pardon.
Information Minister Khieu Kanharith confirmed Sunday that he offered permission for the reopening of Moneaksekar Khmer, but said the move was nothing out of the ordinary.
“Before, he asked us to stop publishing the newspaper, and now he has asked us to reopen it, so there is not any problem,” he said.
Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann said Dam Sith, who also sits on the party’s Standing Committee, would stand firm in his intent to publish the truth, regardless of any government pressure.
“I think that SRP leaders are brave enough to continue their struggle for justice and a society that is clean,” he said.
Moeun Chhean Nariddh, director of the Cambodia Institute for Media Studies, said the relaunch of Moneaksekar Khmer would go some way towards filling the “information vacuum” that exists in the pro-government media sector.
But he said that last year’s closure amounted to a “serious blow” to opposition media that would inevitably make publishers and editors cautious.
“I don’t believe Moneaksekar Khmer will recover and regain its full confidence,” he said.