T HE League of Cambodian Journalists (LCJ), started by a group of primarily
pro-government newspapers, says it will accept political parties' donations as
long as there are no strings attached.
But LCJ president Chum Kanal has
denied widespread rumors that the CPP has already pledged money.
early this month led a breakaway group of newspapers from the Khmer Journalists
Association (KJA) to form the LCJ.
The new group's provisional management
committee comprises Kanal, who writes for Koh Santepheap, the editor of
Rasmei Kampuchea, two Cambodia Times staff and the editor of the
Interior Ministry's magazine.
The league has proclaimed itself to be a
"neutral, independent" association of journalists.
Asked whether the LCJ
would seek funding from political parties, Kanal said: "As president of the
league, I would like to declare that I will accept all money that is given me
freely, [without] pressure or conditions."
Asked whether some of his
members had met CPP officials at the house of party leader and Second Prime
Minister Hun Sen the day the LCJ was formed, Kanal said rumors of that were not
true. The Post's interview with Kanal was then abruptly terminated by LCJ
vice-president Ouk Kimseng, of the Cambodia Times.
The LCJ claims
a membership of 32 publications, radio and television stations, though the KJA
questions that. Both organizations claim the membership of government-owned
media such as Kampuchea newspaper and the AKP news agency.
least eight LCJ members are confirmed defectors from the KJA, and another five
unaligned newspapers were among the first to join the LCJ.
began on Friday June 2 at a meeting of the KJA's ethics committee when Kanal,
the committee chairman, announced his resignation for "personal reasons". The
next morning, Kanal's Koh Santepheap reported that he had resigned
because of KJA management "irregularities" and that he would form the
KJA president Pin Samkhon maintains that, as of Saturday morning,
most of his members had expressed loyalty to the KJA. But by that night, some
seven more newspapers had left.
He said he believed there was "pressure"
for some newspapers to leave, but would not elaborate.
Since then, LCJ
members have published repeated attacks on the KJA and Samkhon alleging
financial irregularities. The KJA has about $350,000 of funding over two years
from USAid. The money is administered by the Asia Foundation.
since asked the foundation to get an independent audit of the KJA to settle the
Asia Foundation resident representative, Jim Klein, said the
KJA's funding was subject to strict financial reporting. Much of the money was
administered directly by the foundation, and the rest paid to the KJA on a
three-month basis. "Nobody got a wheelbarrow full of money that they don't have
to account for," said Klein.
The LCJ's establishment follows
long-standing sniping at Pin Samkhon from some quarters, and internal KJA
disagreements over newspapers which are prosecuted by the
Samkhon has previously acknowledged that the KJA's membership
included journalists who believe that "if you write something bad, you must go
to jail". He said last week that some of those who had left the KJA did not
understand his support for newspapers which ran into trouble from the