Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Journalists only part of the graft problem



Journalists only part of the graft problem

Journalists only part of the graft problem

Dear Editor,

I read the Post's article "Journalists heap scorn on their own ranks at meeting", published on Tuesday, December 23, with great interest. But I regret that the issue the meeting raised is not put into perspective because it is undeniable that without journalists' risky efforts, Cambodian people will find it hard to enjoy their right to receive information.

Throughout the year 2008, we have observed a dozen accusations of journalists allegedly taking bribes and extorting money. Several lawsuits are lodged against journalists, accusing them of defamation and disinformation. On December 23, The Phnom Penh Post published another article on Prince Norodom Ranariddh's threat to sue Moneaksekar Khmer for defamation. Khmer-language Koh Santepheap published on December 22 an article linking a journalist to a robbery case in Kampong Chhnang province's Chhnuk Tru. All these incidents raise concern about journalists' professional codes of ethics. But it should be warned that any move to address this concern must be crafted in a way that press freedom is fully guaranteed.

I completely agree that lack of professional training is part of the reason of their poor performance. But training alone will not solve the problem. Very often, journalists resort to taking bribes and extorting money just to feed their families. All these acts are committed at a cost, of course. Journalists could face lawsuits and threats, including death threats by those who could not succeed in bribing them and others, or even murder. It is advisable that all these issues should be looked at from a holistic approach in order to see the correlation between them and address them accordingly.

Everyone is seeking how to regulate journalists' performance while the same effort should be equally invested in how to protect their specialised veracity. The regulatory 1995 Press Law should be amended for the latter purpose. Moreover, apart from raising professional codes of ethics for journalists up to the standard, increasing their wages/salaries is a necessary step to address their poor performance.  

Without enough food to feed their families, it is hard to imagine that they will uphold those ideal codes of ethics. Moreover, the codes of ethics must be observed by their readers, not by any state agency or those that have close tie with the government. Their freedom of expression and professionalism will be at risk otherwise.

Chheat Sreang

Cambodian Center for Human Rights

Phnom Penh

Send letters to: [email protected] or P.O. Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length.

MOST VIEWED

  • Tourists urged not to skip trip

    The Ministry of Tourism has called on international tourists not to cancel trips to Cambodia, but urged them to adhere to several dos and don’ts when arriving in the Kingdom during the Covid-19 pandemic. The ministry released an eight-point instruction manual on Wednesday published

  • The taxman cometh – Cambodia’s capital gains tax casts the net on individual taxpayers

    In a country where only limited personal income tax existed, the new taxation law beginning January 1, 2021, will make taxpayers out of Cambodians, whether they are ready for it or not About two years ago, a little known amendment was made to Article 7 of the Law

  • Cambodian-American gets Star Trek treatment

    Kevin Ung, a Cambodian-American whose family escaped genocide during the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror, was recently selected from thousands of applicants to participate in the Television Academy Foundation’s inaugural 2020 Star Trek Command Training Programme, a course intended to give hands-on filmmaking experience

  • Cambodia seeks to be transport hub

    Cambodia is working on several fronts to modernise its transport infrastructure and services, concentrating on opening new international gates to relieve and balance traffic congestion at its borders, Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said on Thursday. This is part of the Kingdom’

  • Deminers unearth ancient lion statue

    Cambodia Mine Action Centre (CMAC) director-general Heng Ratana told The Post on Tuesday that a statue of a lion was found by mine clearance experts while they were digging for a development project. It was sent to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts last

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring