Mere months away from the national elections, the host of a Siem Reap province-based radio show that revelled in criticising the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and larger opposition groups says his show has been shut down on the orders of the Ministry of Information.
Khem Veasna, president of the League for Democracy Party, said his show, Our Dream, which aired on Sovann Angkor radio every day from 11am to noon, stopped broadcasting on January 22.
“The owner of the radio station told me that the Ministry of Information ordered them to shut down our program or its licence will be revoked,” he said.
“The program has been broadcasting on this radio for more than a year.”
Veasna called Our Dream a political discussion that likes to take aim at sacred cows like the CPP while not forgetting to spare some of its ammunition for the two main opposition groups, the soon-to-be-merged Sam Rainsy Party and Human Rights Party.
But Keo Vuthy, the manager of the station, denied any mandate from the ministry, saying the show’s cancellation was due to management staff being “incapable of handling a political show”.
“We just suspended their program, and there is no letter from the Ministry of Information,” he said.
Yem Noy, director of the audio-visual department at the Ministry of Information, backed up Vuthy. He said that the ministry was unaware of the show’s suspension until the media called him up.
“Our ministry gave no order to Sovann Angkor radio,” he said.
With national elections nearing, however, Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, said the cases of suspensions and cancellations could increase, and the order from the ministry may not arrive as an official letter.
“In 2012, they just called to owners of the radio [to say] that they aren’t allowed to broadcast, but other radio or TV stations owned by the government were allowed to broadcast on election day.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Chhay Channyda at [email protected]
With assistance from Joe Freeman