LU LAY SRENG
Cambodia's new Minister of Information
CAMBODIA'S new Minister of Information, 61-year-old Lu Lay Sreng, wants to shake-up
the country's media, but slowly, "step-by-step".
Lay Sreng, a dyed-in-the-wool royalist and Funcinpec member since 1982, takes over
a portfolio of which the CPP has had little past hesitation in delegating control.
The most recent incumbent was former BLDP leader and MP, Ieng Mouly.
The CPP has a strong deputy under Lay Sreng - Khieu Kanharith - but both men say
they're convinced they'll have no problem working with each other.
Kanharith says he has known Lay Sreng for a long time already. "I know very
well that Lu Lay Sreng is an easy-going man. We will not have problems, we will cooperate
together to strengthen [the media], especially in technical areas."
Lay Sreng is an engineering and mathematics graduate from California, having fled
to the US from the incoming KR. He joined the royalist resistance in 1983 till 1991,
"working in the psychology section and promoted to major-general in the liberation
front," he says.
"I have not liked the communist [way]," he says, adding that Cambodia could
not abandon the King and "the royalists have to win again".
Prior to this promotion, Lay Sreng had been Under-Secretary of State for Commerce,
Secretary of State.
As Minister of Information, he says his first priority is to encourage Cambodians
to listen and watch Khmer TV and radio.
As long as we let Khmers watch foreign movies and news programs, he says, "our
civilization and culture would disappear within the next 10 or 20 years".
Information has been tasked by the government to cooperate more closely with the
ministries of Culture and Education "to improve this field," he says.
He wants, he says, the media not to criticize the government unfairly for the next
"Within this period of one year," he says, "if the Hun Sen government
is not able to make progress, I myself will also resign."
"My duty is not to close down newspapers, but to guide them the right way,"
He told newspapers that belong to political parties to forget their partisan support
until at least during the lead-up to the next election.
Chum Kanal, president of the League of Cambodian Journalists (LCJ), says he thinks
Lay Sreng will honor the freedom of the press and be a neutral minister.
Tat Ly Hok, president of the Khmer Journalist Association (KJA) says he has yet to
hear how Lay Sreng will instruct the media.
"Now that the ministry belongs to Funcinpec, I think there will be some changes
of TV and radio," Ly Hok says.