A senior Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) official said Prime Minister Hun Sen has the right to intervene in the internal affairs of companies after an audio recording emerged this week in which he is heard ordering the removal of CNC TV’s CEO.
Hun Sen faced criticism after Radio Free Asia on Friday broadcast a leaked 15-minute audio recording of the prime minister ordering CNC TV owner Kith Meng to remove company CEO Ouk Vora from his position.
Vora was allegedly planning to fire 32 staffers, including a pregnant woman who is a relative of Hun Sen.
“I can handcuff an opposition party leader in the middle of the night easily. You should know who Hun Sen is,” the prime minister is heard warning the media mogul in the recording, adding that if Meng refused he would face protests.
Australian-Cambodian Meng is the owner of the Royal Group, a media company that owns several broadcasting networks in the Kingdom – including the Cambodia Broadcasting Service (CBS) and CNC TV.
The prime minister’s words left some concerned at his influence over the affairs of a significant private company.
But CPP spokesman Sok Eysan responded to the criticism, saying the issue was an administrative one, not a court order, and that the prime minister is well within his rights to advise the company president if he sees injustice in the way the company operates.
“As a national leader, when he sees any unjust act, Samdech Hun Sen has the right to tell the company president to take action as per his role as company president,” he said.
He continued that comments made by analysts accusing the prime minister of being the father of the courts and exerting undue influence were incorrect.
“This is not Samdech acting on behalf of the company president. Don’t be confused. You all pretend not to understand and just say and broadcast unprofessionally,” he added.
‘Win-win solution for all’
Following news of the prime minister’s conversation with Meng, Facebook-based community news outlet, CBN Khmer, published an article titled Hot news, Hun Sen is very angry and has arrested Kith Meng, alleging that the media mogul was arrested over the incident.
However, CBS published a letter on December 22 rejecting the claims.
“The action of CBN Khmer is very bad. Please don’t be misled by this dark group. Kith Meng, CEO of CBS, is taking part in a joyful event with his family and friends in Siem Reap,” the letter read, labelling the claims slanderous and an attempt to stir a reaction among the Cambodian public.
Huy Vannak, a former senior member of the Royal Group and close ally of Meng, said the issue had already been resolved in a “win-win solution for all”.
“So far there is a win-win solution for all. No one is the victim in this issue … The win-win solution is that Vora remains at One TV [another outlet owned by the Royal Group] while CNC remains under CBS. In the past Vora used to be at One TV,” he said.
Kith Meng could not be reached for comment on the matter.