POPULAR Khmer language daily newspaper Koh Santipheap (Island of Peace) has
been reprimanded for publishing a cartoon after an MP complained that it
ridiculed the King.
The newspaper's June 20-21 edition printed a cartoon
titled "To bring the Khmer Rouge to power?" The picture depicts King Sihanouk
with drops of sweat pouring from his face hauling a heavy cart loaded with Khmer
Rouge leaders through a no-entry street in front of the Council of Ministers
KR President Khieu Samphan is seated in the front of the cart
armed with a knife and poised to stab the King. Ieng Sary is seated in the
middle of the cart and orders Samphan "Don't stab yet." Pol Pot, seated in the
back of the cart, is armed with an ax and has an enigmatic smile on his
A letter dated June 21 from Funcinpec MP Ahmad Yahya made a
complaint to the Ministry of Information. It was obtained by the Post and said
the newspaper had disparaged King Sihanouk's credibility and dignity. The letter
added that the newspaper had insulted people from all walks of life who consider
the King as the God of the Cambodian people.
Upon receiving the protest
letter the Ministry of Information called in the editor of the Koh Santipheap
In a reply to Yahya's letter dated June 27 Minister of Information Ieng
Mouly said he had dealt with the complaint . Mouly's letter said that Koh
Santipheap editor Oy Thong Pang had promised not to run any more cartoons which
could be considered demeaning to the King.
Pang, a veteran journalist
with over 20 years experience, said he had no intention for the cartoon to
ridicule the King and declined to comment further.
Information Ieng Mouly told the Post the Ministry would not act against
newspapers unless it received complaints from members of the
"Ordinary people who think an article can damage their
credibility or reputation can lodge a complaint and the Ministry will act
accordingly," he said.
But Mouly said newspapers should not generate
stories that can affect the King's credibility and dignity because he is sacred.
MP Yahya said: "Newspapers should be able to criticize the King if he
makes a mistake but they should not ridicule him in cartoons."
cartoon's publication coincided with the conclusion of the failed second round
table peace talks organized by King Sihanouk which aimed to bring about a
national reconciliation between the KR and the Royal government.
debate over the cartoon is the latest in a series of incidents in which the
government has sought to reassert control over what it sees as an out of hand
In May Sakal newspaper had a print run confiscated by police
after attempting to run a picutre titled "Why does the King still have longings
for the Khmer Rouge." The picture showed King Sihanouk arm in arm with KR
nominal leader Khieu Samphan.
In June Prum Bayon newspaper was shut down
after running articles considered pro-KR which were deemed insulting to the King
and national leaders, and a threat to national stability.