But media observers say staff ties to opposition Sam Rainsy Party could affect coverage
Photo by: HENG CHIVOAN
Copies of the new Khmer-language paper Khmer Nation on sale at newsstands Wednesday in Phnom Penh.
THE Khmer Nation, a new Khmer-language newspaper purported to be politically neutral, debuted Monday with an eight-page issue the publisher says will come out five days a week for distribution in 18 provinces.
Publisher Sun Chanthy said the paper would cover Cambodian political, economic, human rights and security issues from a "neutral and independent perspective", though some media observers said the former political ties of several staff members might derail this mission.
Sun Chanthy acknowledged that some members of his 15-person staff have formerly worked for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, but he said this would not affect the paper's coverage.
"It's true that some of our reporters had worked for the opposition before, but it's not important," he said. "It's our position that's important."
Doubts about neutrality
Ou Virak, spokesman for the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said the launch of any newspaper is a positive development but expressed his doubts that this one would be independent.
"If the newspaper is launched with financial support from a political party, I think it will be an instrument for party propaganda," he said.
Sun Chanthy declined to say where the paper received its start-up funding.
Only time will tell whether the paper genuinely wants to play a neutral role, said Naly Pilorge, the director of rights group Licadho.
"The current situation, unfortunately, is that we don't get responsible information," she said. "We get only one-sided information."