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Gov’t spokesman talks of challenges

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Information minister Khieu Kanharith speaks with the press in Koh Kong province on Tuesday. AKP

Gov’t spokesman talks of challenges

Royal Government Spokesperson Unit chairman Phay Siphan noted some challenges and inefficiencies in the state’s “Office of Information Intelligence and Good Governance in the Information Sector”, citing a lack of professional resources including officials, materials and budget, and occasional poor cooperation between the officials of the unit and those of other institutes.

Siphan discussed these challenges following a two-day workshop on “Information Bureau and Information Governance,” which was attended by about 180 participants. Attendees at the March 21-22 conference were provincial hall spokespersons and information officials from the Koh Kong, Preah Sihanouk, Kampot and Kep provincial administrations.

He said the seminar aimed to share the ideas, strategies and experiences of state-owned media – in the interests of effective information dissemination. This was key to good governance at the sub-national level and brought people closer together, which had many benefits for local communities.

“Clear communication requires a strong forum for dialogue between the information officials and departments of the administration. When public messaging is clear, it adds to transparency, accountability and problem solving. These earn the confidence of the public,” he said.

After the workshop discussions, he noted three main factors which reduced efficiency.

First, there is a lack of the resources required to assemble and disseminate information in some provinces.

Second, cooperation between information officials and the different departments is neither close nor consistent.

Third, provincial hall spokespeople are designated as such, in addition to their core roles. This impinges on the time that can spend on each role.

Siphan requested that the Minister of Information and deputy governors consider a specific policy that would encourage cooperation. He also suggested that regular speeches should be identified as a core task of administrations. He said this would establish a dialogue with the public and bring them together with the authorities, which was crucial in building a society that was prosperous, progressive and sustainable.

Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith, who presided over the seminar, said 10 years ago, the information department directors were the spokespeople, but often did not meet with governors, which made it difficult to exchange comprehensive information.

He added that a spokesperson should be appointed by each governor. They must be intelligent and have good communication with all institutions, departments and units around the province. They should also be comfortable letting experts answer specialized questions and enquiries.

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