Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cartoon sparks controversy



Cartoon sparks controversy

Cartoon sparks controversy

A

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

building.

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

face.

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.

Minister of

Information Ieng Mouly told the Post the Ministry would not act against

newspapers unless it received complaints from members of the

public.

"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."

The

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.

The

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

free press.

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.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Businesses in capital told to get travel permit amid lockdown through One Window Service

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has issued guidelines on how to get travel permission for priority groups during the lockdown of Phnom Penh, directing private institutions to apply through the municipality's One Window Service and limit their staff to a mere two per cent. In

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and