Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Journos thank PM for ‘freedom’

Journos thank PM for ‘freedom’

Former RFA reporters Oun Chhin (centre, back) and Yeang Sothearin (left in blue shirt) are escorted by officials after being detained for questioning earlier this month in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district.
Former RFA reporters Oun Chhin (centre, back) and Yeang Sothearin (left in blue shirt) are escorted by officials after being detained for questioning earlier this month in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district. Pha Lina

Journos thank PM for ‘freedom’

The Club of Cambodian Journalists thanked Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday night during an annual convention after the premier pledged to the group his commitment to press freedom, just months after nearly 20 radio outlets and the Cambodia Daily were shuttered, and while two former Radio Free Asia journalists are under investigation for allegedly unlawfully sending information abroad to their former employer.

Pen Bona, president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, yesterday said Hun Sen’s statement conveyed “a good message”.

“We cannot say that all journalists are arrested and that the government does not respect freedom of the press,” he said, when asked if he really believed the pledges of support for the press.

He added that he should “recognise that there are some problems.

“The political situation affects more or less the freedom of the journalists, but in general, we cannot say that we don’t have freedom of the press.”

In his message to the club, issued Thursday before the annual Editors’ Forum, the premier writes that the press can be a “double-edged weapon” if it fails to follow ethical standards and press laws or if it exaggerates information.

“If the press [goes] beyond the law, by violating the law [the] press really damages democracy, peace and national development,” his message reads. “It also pushes the country to fall into war. The Royal Government of Cambodia will not allow [the press] to be used in an anarchical way by violating the law to launch a ‘colour revolution’ to topple the legal government.”

Ed Legaspi, executive director at the Bangkok-based Southeast Asia Press Alliance, said he hopes that Hun Sen means what he says about being committed to freedom of the press, which “the government needs to demonstrate quite urgently”.

“When newspapers are shuttered and radio programmes are forced off the air through rules other than media ethics and professionalism, those are attacks on press freedom by a government that uses technicalities of the law rather than answer the observations of a critical press,” he said.

Over the course of the summer, 19 radio stations that broadcasted Voice of America, RFA or opposition party shows were pulled from the air, ostensibly over licensing issues. Meanwhile, the Cambodia Daily published its final edition in early September after being hit with a $6.3 million tax bill.

MOST VIEWED

  • With herd immunity likely in 2022, is Cambodia ready to reopen for tourism?

    The government aims to inoculate 80 per cent of the target population by June next year, giving it a head start among regional peers to reboot the sector but first, it has to do a few things to up its game A sign on a glass

  • Quarantine still a must for all arrivals, in next Covid chapter

    Since early May, an average of five to 10 Cambodian people have died from Covid-19 a day with many others testing positive amid the ongoing community outbreak. At the same time, however, hundreds of patients also recovered a day. The first Covid-19 case in Cambodia was

  • US wants 'full access' to Ream Naval Base

    On June 11, the US embassy's Defense Attaché Colonel Marcus M Ferrara visited Ream Nava Base in coordination with Cambodian officials following the recent approval of Prime minister Hun Sen to allay the concerns on Chinese military presence at the base as raised by US Deputy

  • Jab drive heading to 5 provinces

    The government is set to vaccinate more than 1.2 million people in five provinces after finishing with Phnom Penh and neighbouring Kandal in an ongoing campaign administered by the ministries of Health and National Defence. The five provinces are Preah Sihanouk, Kampong Speu, Takeo, Kampong Cham

  • New immigration bill targets illegal foreigners in Kingdom

    General Department of Immigration (GDI) officials are discussing revisions to the new draft law on immigration to prevent foreigners from entering Cambodia illegally and to supervise those living in the Kingdom more effectively. The revisions draw wide support among civil society organisations. GDI director-general Kirth

  • Kingdom set to be a gold producer

    Cambodia will soon join the roster of gold producing countries after the government announced the commencement of commercial gold mining operations in the Okvau area in southwestern Mondulkiri province's Keo Seima district from June 21. Prime Minister Hun Sen on June 10 announced that after 14 years of