CAMBODIA'S First Prime Minister has criticized Information Minister Ieng Mouly for
denying Funcinpec equal exposure on national media, as the battle for control of
the airwaves heats up in the lead up to the elections.
Prince Norodom Ranariddh criticised Mouly, attacking national radio and television
stations for showing less of him than Second Prime Minister Hun Sen.
"We have always played our top leaders in the program," Mouly responded,
arguing that air time allocated was based on the length of speeches rather than political
allegiance. He mentioned the leaders as the King, the head of National Assembly Chea
Sim, and the two Prime Ministers.
Prince Rannaridh said that he had been asked to remove Ieng Mouly, because the minister
often plays speeches of Hun Sen more than himself.
Ranariddh told Information Ministry staff at his residence on 22 January: "Someone
asked me 'why don't you remove Mr Ieng Mouly? He plays Your Royal Highness just a
little, but he repeatedly played the speech of Samdech Hun Sen three to four times.'
But I responded that, no, we cannot ban him...he is not so motivated to support Samdech
Hun Sen," chuckled the Prince in implicit criticism of Mouly.
Ranariddh called for Information Ministry staff to work in a neutral way in order
to give accurate news to the public during the future campaigns for the commune and
"What I want to officially say is I asked them to be neutral," Ranariddh
said. "If we are not neutral...it is not national radio..."
Ieng Mouly claimed that the Prince's reaction occurred because Funcinpec and CPP
were disappointed with each other on political grounds.
"Why did [Ranariddh] not say anything before? When they [Rannaridh and Hun Sen]
have been softer with each other? Why has he just said [something] at the moment
...," Mouly said.
"So far, no mistake has been made by national radio and television," he
argued. "The problem is how the two big parties [Funcinpec and CCP] are going
to compromise on the dispute that they have had with each other."
Mouly referred to himself as the 'third person' from the 'third political party',
saying that the Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party (BLDP) - which has just signed
an alliance with CPP - is small and his position is low. There was no way that he
could solve the disputes of the leaders of the two big political parties, he said.
Khieu Kanharith, Secretary of State for the Ministry of Information complained that
he has difficulty to manage the broadcasting program, because all of the leaders
need to be on the air all the time showing what they have done.
"It is difficult. Sometimes I was abused by Samdech Second Prime Minister when
I cut out his speech. He had gone and worked in many places," he said. "We
have been abused by both sides."
Political observers predicted that disputes over the coverage of political events
and speeches aired by state-run television and radio would mount as the elections