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Govt-press relations remain icy

Govt-press relations remain icy

S INCE the killing of editor Non Chan of the Voice of Khmer Youth, media circles in the country have had an uneasy relationship with the government which the government is reluctant to help improve, according to Pin Samkhon, president of the Khmer Journalists Association (KJA).

Speaking at a group discussion with journalists at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Cambodia (FCCC) on Oct 13, he said: "The government seems to have no willingness to improve its relationship with the press. Moreover, it blames the press all the time."

The murder of the editor in September was a shock to Khmer journalists, and Samkhon criticized the government for its delay in finding the culprits. He also spoke of self-censorship on the part of journalists who were afraid of a recurrence of such an incident because of their reports.

"It is a fact that the people who killed the editor have not been found. The press believed that the government played the role in the incident," said Samkhon. He added: "Politicians have given no indication about the protection of journalists. Journalists themselves are afraid that something they write could be a danger to them."

Kevin Delany, one of the other speakers and ABC's former correspondent based in Hong Kong and Saigon, said the editor's death had a chilling effect and said "the government must assure journalists that there will be no retribution on journalists for doing their job."

Delany said both the government and the media would benefit by a good long-term relationship.

"Any government needs the media, and the media needs to work with the government," he said.

"The media are a conduit. If you are a tennis player, the media is now on the other side, but not as your opponent. The media is your partner in doubles tennis," he said.

Pin Samkhon also acknowledged that the lack of skill among Khmer journalists has led to much misreporting, causing resentment in the government.

He said in the next few weeks he was planning to distribute English translations of Khmer articles, so as to inform foreigners about the approach of the local press to news.

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