Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kanharith backs off in press law row

Kanharith backs off in press law row

Kanharith backs off in press law row

T HE State Secretary for Information told the Post that he was misunderstood at a

recent symposium on the press law organized by the UN Field Office for Human

Rights.

Khieu Kanharith was quoted as saying that the new press law

envisaged by the Royal Government would allow the Information Ministry and the

Interior Ministry to suspend publication and distribution without a court

order.

At the meeting it was unclear whether Kanharith was referring to

the new law or the old law passed by the State of Cambodia

regime.

Kanharith made it clear that he was referring to the old law in

the speech.

He said: "I was misunderstood. I did not intend to talk about

the new law."

He added: "There are some people who will be surprised by

the law. There are some in the Council of Ministers who want a very liberal

law."

The Minister of Information Ieng Mouly has maintained that

Cambodia's press law will be one of the most liberal in the world. Mouly is on

the Council of Ministers.

Kanharith's apparent comments at the seminar

provoked an outpouring of protest from Cambodian journalists. The Khmer

Journalists'Association held a press conference coming down strongly on the side

of an unregulated press.

As he went to Battambang and Pailin in the week

after the symposium, and then to the Thai border, the issue remained

unresolved.

A review of the tapes of the symposium by the UN Field Office

did not resolve the problem, as the tape player malfunctioned during the

comments which arose during the question and answer period, and the UN

interpreter left the room to correct the problem.

The Post has learned

that the main adherent of a strong press law in the Council of Ministers is the

Minister of Justice, Chem Snguon. As the operation of the Council of Ministers

is not regulated by organic law, it is unclear how difficult questions like the

content of Cambodia's press law are resolved. So far differences of opinion in

the Council of Ministers has resulted in stalemate, as it appears to have done

with the Press Law.

The strongest argument that members of the government

have made is that the Cambodian press has displayed a level of incompetence that

demands government regulation. The most recent example of this, members of the

government say, was that of the editor of the Morning News that claimed that the

governor of Svay Reang had been in a car theft ring.

The editor, Nguon

Nun was held for two days, and reportedly admitted to having no evidence for his

claims other than hearsay.

The Khmer Journalists' Association grants that

the level of competence in the Khmer Press is low, but they argue that strict

regulation of the press by the government is not the answer.

King

Sihanouk has joined the side of the Khmer journalists. He has advised the press

should be given a wide latitude .

MOST VIEWED

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    The Ministry of Health has issued a directive on the treatment of people who have tested positive for the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant, following a suggestion from Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of January 21. The directive permits home quarantine for those who

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • Demining rat ‘hero’ Magawa dead at 8

    A landmine-hunting rat that was awarded a gold medal for heroism for clearing ordnance from the Cambodian countryside has died, his charity said on January 11. Magawa, a giant African pouched rat originally from Tanzania, helped clear mines from about 225,000sqm of land – the equivalent of 42

  • Hun Sen gets 4th Covid shot, urges compatriots to follow

    Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany on January 14 received their fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine and called on compatriots to follow suit as the Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread in the community. This marks the launch of Cambodia's fourth-dose vaccination campaign,

  • Fourth dose Covid booster drive jabs 43K in two days

    In the first two days of the fourth-dose Covid-19 vaccination campaign, more than 43,000 people volunteered to get the jabs, while over 4.6 million people have received a third shot. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said that fourth-dose vaccinations, which began on January 14 exclusively with the Pfizer