Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Anonymous letters slam Cambodia’s NGOs

Anonymous letters slam Cambodia’s NGOs

A screenshot of the Facebook page Chaksmok Chao, which made a series of posts accusing international NGOs of colluding with the opposition party.
A screenshot of the Facebook page Chaksmok Chao, which made a series of posts accusing international NGOs of colluding with the opposition party. Photo supplied

Anonymous letters slam Cambodia’s NGOs

A raft of anonymous letters and articles critical of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and other NGOs funded by the United States was published by government-aligned Fresh News over the weekend, which one NGO head described as an “avalanche” of misinformation intended to create uncertainty and confusion.

Last week, materials from NDI were leaked online from a training session it conducted for the Cambodia National Rescue Party in March, prompting government officials and Fresh News to accuse the group of political bias, of assisting the opposition to overthrow the government and of failing to register with the Ministry of Interior as an NGO.

The attacks on NDI continued over the weekend, when at least six articles were posted on Fresh News calling into question the intentions of USAID-funded NGOs, such as NDI, the National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House and others – saying the State Department body was creating “hybrid NGOs” tasked with toeing a political agenda aligned with American foreign policy.

“Not only these, there are other NGOs who also will want to create a colour revolution and topple the government like they have successfully in other countries,” read a letter penned by an anonymous writer “Chaksmok Chao”.

CNRP members attend a workshop conducted by the National Democratic Institute earlier this year in Phnom Penh.
CNRP members attend a workshop conducted by the National Democratic Institute earlier this year in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied

A companion video was circulated online with images of the Syrian civil war and NDI’s documents, with the narrator reading out the same text.

Another article, written by “So Kongchey”, alleged that NGOs were reporting rights violations only to further their causes or as a jumping-off point to start a political career – naming CNRP President Kem Sokha, who used to work at Cambodian Center for Human Rights. Posted last night, the same person said Cambodia would no longer be a “paradise for civil society” after the signing of the controversial Law on Associations and NGOs, which would limit their “anarchic” activities.

In recent weeks similar posts on the news site have coincided with official action taken against NGOs Comfrel, Adhoc and Licadho, which have each been summonsed for meetings with the Tax Department.

Naly Pilorge, deputy director for advocacy at rights group Licadho, said the government-aligned media outlet’s “intensifying attacks” about topics that are administrative in nature are concerning. She said it would not only result in a reassessment from civil society of their activities but could have wider implications among the public.

“This intense avalanche of articles recently may cause uncertainty and confusion among Cambodians who are shown partial or distorted information about complicated issues instead of building trust and transparency amongst the government, public and private sector, and civil society,” she said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen rejects ‘rift’ rumours spread by ‘stupid gangsters’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday denied a “rift” among top leaders of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), and rejected claims that Senate president Say Chhum and Interior Minister Sar Kheng were set to be removed from their positions as rumours spread by “gangsters”.

  • Huge 3.5-tonne ivory haul seized in capital

    Working with US officials, Phnom Penh Autonomous Port has uncovered almost 3.5 tonnes of elephant ivory hidden in a container, the US Embassy in Cambodia said on Facebook on Saturday. A tip-off provided to the General Department of Customs and Excise by a US Fish and

  • Cambodia’s Miss Universe contestant to return home

    Twenty-three-year-old Rern Sinat from Kampong Cham province, only the second Miss Cambodia to compete in the Miss Universe beauty pageant, is said to be “a little disappointed but in good spirits” after not ranking in the 2018 Miss Universe contest in Bangkok, Thailand. “The weakest part

  • Assembly passes amendment to Political Party Law Article 45

    The National Assembly on Thursday unanimously approved a proposed amendment to Article 45 of the Law on Political Parties in a move that could pave the way for former senior opposition leaders banned for five years to return to the political stage. As expected, the 115 ruling