Prime Minister Hun Sen met with members of the press yesterday, not shying away from classifying some journalists and media outlets as extortionists and tax evaders, while applauding United States President Donald Trump’s efforts to go after so-called fake news.
The annual event, in which the premier addressed more than 3,000 members of the media on Koh Pich, follows a crackdown in the Kingdom that saw more than a dozen radio outlets and in-country operations for US-funded Radio Free Asia shuttered, as well as the closing of the Cambodia Daily over back taxes. In his speech, the premier seemed to point the blame squarely at the Daily.
“Some press operated in Cambodia violating Cambodia’s laws, especially they have not paid the taxes properly,” he said, adding that they were now “performing” as political victims.
The premier also seemed to blame the media for exaggeration, saying that it dictated whether or not a situation is “hot” or “cold”.
“If you want the situation to be hot, then you write insulting things and then it becomes hot,” he said.
As he has over the past year, the premier then applauded Trump’s attack on the “fake news” media, commending awards the president recently gave out to media outlets he particularly disapproved.
“Even in the US they have this kind of press and the US president created press awards for fake and lying news,” he said.
“In Cambodia, this type of press happens . . . It does not respect Cambodia’s law and when it is revealed, it acts as the victim to get pity from foreign governments. This case should not happen again. The Ministry of Information offering the licence must take the responsibility for this.”