Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kingdom's only Cham radio show goes dark



Kingdom's only Cham radio show goes dark

A woman walks past a mosque in the capital that has been at the centre of a development dispute. A radio program has allegedly been shut down for discussing the topic on air.
A woman walks past a mosque in the capital that has been at the centre of a development dispute. A radio program has allegedly been shut down for discussing the topic on air. Heng Chivoan

Kingdom's only Cham radio show goes dark

Cambodia's only Cham-language radio program has been quietly shuttered, with a bitter land dispute centred on the Boeung Kak mosque identified by some as the trigger.

Radio Sap Cham, a daily hour-long radio program aimed at a Cham Muslim audience, was cancelled two weeks ago and replaced with music on the airwaves.

But the reasons for the sudden closure remain murky, with producer Sles Nazy saying he was given no notice or explanation.

“We don’t have the specific reason behind this closure; I heard it happened after there was an order from someone at the top level of the government,” Nazy said.

Kham Phon Keomony, head of 103 FM radio, said the program had been broadcast for free by the government since 2008.

“Only the government knows the reason why it was shut down this month,” he said.

But both government spokesman Phay Siphan and Ministry of Information spokesman Ouk Kimseng said they had no knowledge of the reasons behind the program’s sudden silencing.

However, Ahmad Yahya, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Social Affairs, said the closure stemmed from a controversial segment about plans to build a road through the Boeung Kak mosque compound – an issue Yahya went on air to discuss.

That episode saw Yahya sued for defamation by Othsman Hassan, a fellow Muslim community leader and a secretary of state at the Ministry of Labour.

While Yahya believes the road should not be built, to decrease noise and preserve the sanctity of regular prayer, Hassan has previously said he would like to see the area developed with high rises to benefit the Muslim community.

Yahya claims Hassan had rallied Muslim leaders at the village level to lodge a complaint about the episode to the upper levels of government, which then saw the Cham program pulled from the air.

Hassan could not be reached for comment by deadline. Yahya said as the time slot was provided free by the government, the government was free to take it away, but he would try to raise some $30,000 to pay for a new slot on commercial radio.

Producer Nazy also suspected the road dispute had caused some Muslim leaders to launch a complaint against the program, which he stressed was apolitical.

“I feel very sorry about this … The people who like to listen to our program also took to social media to express their regret,” he said.

Srip Lany from the Union of Muslim Youth said he was disappointed the Kingdom’s only Cham-language program had been cut, and said the reasons should be made public.

Cham researcher Farina So said the radio show, with its focus on culture and religion, helped preserve the Cham language and identity.

“We need to preserve the language, at the personal, family and national level,” she said. “In previous times, there was some kind of discrimination against the Cham; people didn’t know much about Cham issues. Now the radio program tries to clarify all those issues.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from

  • Floods prompt evacuations in Kampong Speu

    Rain-induced floods and water flowing from Kampong Speu province have submerged the houses of 1,527 families living close to the Prek Thnot River in Spean Thma, Tien, Kong Noy and Roluos communes in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district, according to data from local authorities. Spean Thma