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

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.

  • Gov’t says tourism recovers slightly despite pandemic

    The Ministry of Tourism and the Phnom Penh municipal administration have recognised 33 tourism businesses in the capital which have consistently implemented safety measures for tourists and adhered to the code of conduct issued by the ministry. Recently, the ministry announced that tourism businesses had to

  • Mull ASEAN border opening, PM urges

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region. He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions. The prime minister’s request was made at the

  • Ministry reports 11 new Covid-19 cases, reiterates vigilance

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urged people to continue practising virus prevention techniques after 11 people tested positive for Covid-19 within two days after arriving in the Kingdom. Speaking on Sunday, Bun Heng stressed the importance of washing hands, wearing masks or scarves when

  • Nine on Indonesia flight Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health on Saturday confirmed nine more imported cases of Covid-19. The nine ‒ eight Cambodians and one Indonesian, aged 22 to 26 ‒ arrived in Cambodia on Thursday via a direct flight from Indonesia and are receiving treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hostipal in Phnom Penh.

  • Kingdom’s financial sector healthy

    Cambodia's financial sector remains on a sustainable growth path despite the Covid-19 pandemic squeezing crucial industries, National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) governor Chea Chanto said. Tourism, garments and footwear have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 impact, he said, whereas the financial and agriculture sectors

  • Vietnam told to remove border tents

    Kandal provincial governor Kong Sophoan has ordered local authorities to prohibit the construction of buildings in areas bordering Cambodia and to report any irregularities immediately. Recently, Vietnamese officials removed another seven tents from the border area with Cambodia. His remarks were made on Wednesday afternoon

  • Migrant workers set to return from Malaysia

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation confirmed on Thursday that 158 Cambodian students and migrant workers will fly home from Malaysia on Friday morning. This is the second flight to bring Cambodians home from Malaysia. A ministry notice said Malaysia Airlines Flight MH754 will