Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Free speech exposes truth



Free speech exposes truth

Free speech exposes truth

Dear Editor:

It is no surprise that one of the persons implicated, whether truly or falsely, in the recent distribution of anti-government leaflets around Phnom Penh is now apparently in fear for his safety.

As I once stated at an AusAID interview in Canberra for a project supporting justice sector reform here in Cambodia, it is no mystery that Cambodians are afraid to speak out in their own country.

The representative of the Cambodian Ministry of Justice present at the time merely sat stony-faced at the table. Come to think of it, the AusAID representatives also seemed unpleased. I didn't get the job.

Of course, the problem with preventing free speech, no matter how politically objectionable it may be to those with the power to prevent it, is that by doing so the ideas expressed are inadvertently but inevitably given a level of credibility and reasonableness they may not otherwise have garnered. After all, it is reasonable to assume that if powerful persons are afraid of the mere expression of an idea, then that idea must have a grain of truth. The assumption may be incorrect, but it will nevertheless be made.

On the other hand, the great benefit of a society where ideas can be freely expressed without fear of retaliation from the powers that be is that they may then be subjected to the objective scrutiny of the average reasonable citizen and countered with opposing reasonable arguments. Thus, truly ridiculous notions and accusations will be exposed for what they are in the arena of open, public discourse, rather than being repeated in whispers year after year, their merit never tested.

Raymund Johansen
Afghanistan

Send letters to: [email protected] or PO Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length.
The views expressed above are solely the author's and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • Cambodia to make auto-rickshaws

    Locally-assembled electric auto-rickshaws could hit the Cambodian market as soon as early in May after the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) gave the greenlight to an investment project at the weekend. According to a CDC press release, it will issue a final registration