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PM touts media task force

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Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at the closing ceremony of the Education Ministry’s annual meeting at the National Institute of Education in Phnom Penh yesterday, where he announced a new centralised task force to keep the media informed of matters in the public interest.

The Cambodian government established on Wednesday a centralised task force that will relay information to the press on issues relating to military action, diplomacy and national security.

Phay Siphan, spokesman at the Council of Ministers, said yesterday that Prime Minister Hun Sen approved on Wednesday the creation of the Inter-Ministry Media Task Force. The newly established body will comprise senior officials from the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Council of Ministers.

“[This body] is part of an improvement in the government’s work … for the flow of information that is in the public’s interest,” he said.

Phay Siphan added that domestic media reported varying figures in the number of deaths and injured persons during the recent Cambodian-Thai conflict at the Preah Vihear temple. The task force, he said, will help to quell any disparities in information and provide the press with uniform figures from the government as a whole.

“From now on when you ask me to comment, I will be able to answer everything,” said Phay Siphan. “Before, if an individual from the government declined to comment, you would get nothing.” he said.

The task force will be headed by Neang Phat, secretary of state from the Ministry of Defence, with Phay Siphan acting as deputy. Minister of Foreign Affairs spokseman Koy Kuong  and Defence Ministry Spokesman Chhum Socheat will act as spokespersons for their respective ministries when the body dispenses information to the press.

Pen Samithi, president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, welcomed the government’s new body, saying it’s the responsibility of any government facing military conflict to provide official information to the press.

“It’s better than the press not being able to access official information from the government,” he said.

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