Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - KJA boss sees danger in paid-up state journos

KJA boss sees danger in paid-up state journos

KJA boss sees danger in paid-up state journos

REPRESENTATIVES from the state-owned media organizations are beginning to pay membership

fees to secure their status on the steering committee of the Khmer Journalists Association

(KJA).

Representatives from the national radio, TVK and the media center of the Ministry

of Information are now paying fees they have ignored for nearly a year.

KJA's President Pin Samkhon said that their decision to pay now appeared to be aimed

at consolidating opposition against him and increasing pressure for a new election.

"These representatives... now they're coming in and hastily paying the money

in order to secure the stance in altering the position of the KJA," said Samkhon.

An attempt to break the deadlock and pave the way for a new election at the KJA failed

again on Feb 6 as members disagreed on the status of the defunct Tudo (Freedom) newspaper.

Tudo's vote was instrumental in Samkhon's winning a 16-15 leadership vote on Jan

5.

On Feb 6, the KJA held a meeting to review the status of steering committee members

- a proposal put forth by First Deputy Tat Ly Hok and supported by Samkhon last month.

Samkhon said that disgruntled members led by Angkor Thmei newspaper demanded the

expulsion of Tudo members from the committee.

Tudo was closed by the government in December after its editor Ly Chan Dara was found

to have been involved in an anti-Vietnam movement. Dara has denied the allegation.

Swinging on the tightrope with a one-vote victory, Samkhon is being confronted with

increasing demands for a new election.

"I can not guess [about the outcome]," he said. "A new election is

unavoidable".

Some KJA members said that the chances of Samkhon surviving another re-election seemed

very slim.

They said that Samkhon's downfall might be clear-cut if Tudo is stripped of its voting

eligibility - which still remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, the Women's Media Center of Cambodia (WMC) - which had been a strong supporter

of the KJA since its founding - has pulled out of the association.

They were frustrated with the ongoing squabbles within the KJA, say KJA members -

though the women themselves were more circumspect.

WMC's representative Tiv Sarayeth said she would submit a resignation letter to Samkhon

sometime this month.

She said the WMC was busy with other projects, such as Media Watchdog Group that

will lobby against obscene images of women.

"We've found a necessity to withdraw without any pressure at all. We don't want

to get involved in anything but to work to improve the conditions of the Cambodian

women and women journalists," Sarayeth said.

Sarayeth also denied that there was any pressure brought to bear from the Government

for her group to leave the association.

In a separate incident, pro-Khmer Nation Party newspaper Neak Proyuth (Warrior) is

facing charges of disinformation, defamation and incitement.

Editor Sam Vuthy was to be summoned by the Municipal Court for preliminary questioning

on Feb 8, but at the Post press time he could not comment, saying he was not aware

what articles the government's complaint was based on.

Government lawyer Kao Bun Hong could not be reached for comment. However, prosecutor

Chhin Chiva said that the government demanded that the paper should be fined and

shut down. Chiva would not say what article or articles the suit relates to.

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