The Ministry of Information is set to create a collaborative information working group involving all ministries and state institutions.

This initiative aims to foster swift responses to false and misleading news pertaining to any ministry or institution, aligning with the government’s vision to transform the information ministry into a public relations arm of the government.

The ministry convened a gathering of 30 inter-ministerial information working groups and relevant units on October 9.

The meeting, chaired by minister Neth Pheaktra, aimed to enhance cooperation in information exchange and the dissemination of news regarding the accomplishments and activities of ministries and institutions.

The formation of this inter-ministerial working group intends to streamline communication and information sharing, particularly to support each other in addressing inaccurate information.

During the meeting, Pheaktra explained that the ministry has outlined the direction and vision for its seventh mandate. This transformation would involve serving as the government’s voice through collaboration with the state-run National Television of Cambodia (TVK), Agence Kampuchea Presse (AKP) and the ministry’s official app.

“As a government body responsible for media oversight … the information ministry will facilitate widespread dissemination of the achievements and activities of all state institutions through national media,” he said.

Ministry spokesperson Tep Asnarith said on October 10 that the cross-sectoral information working group was initiated by Pheaktra to ensure the efficient conveyance of accurate information to the public.

“This approach will significantly contribute to advancing comprehensive, timely and effective media collaboration, particularly in joint efforts to combat the dissemination of false information. This will be achieved through a unified monitoring system overseen by the ministry in partnership with various ministries and institutions,” he pointed out.

Nop Vy, executive director of the Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association (CamboJA), said this initiative is a positive step to effectively address and inform the public, especially in countering the spread of misinformation.

He also urged the government to provide opportunities for all invested parties to be involved in tackling fake news while emphasising the importance of clearly defining what constitutes news. This, he said, is essential to safeguard the people’s right to freedom of expression, a fundamental guarantee in a democratic society.

“The government should explore opportunities for stakeholders to collaborate in combating misleading and deceptive information. It’s a challenge that cannot be addressed in isolation and necessitates the involvement of journalists,” he said.