Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Press group expresses concern



Press group expresses concern

Press group expresses concern

The Overseas Press Club of Cambodia said yesterday it was “seriously concerned” about the actions of the government’s anti-corruption head, Om Yentieng, who on Friday ordered his staff to confiscate voice recorders from reporters at the end of a press conference.

Om Yentieng, a close advisor to Prime Minister Hun Sen, called a press conference to detail the Anti-Corruption Unit’s investigation and arrest of anti-drug czar Moek Dara.

Om Yentieng answered several questions following the event. A Cambodia Daily reporter asked him about a shelved United States Federal Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the deadly 1997 grenade attack that left 16 opposition Sam Rainsy Party activists dead and over 100 wounded.

The Daily has published articles about recently obtained FBI files relating to the investigation.

“Don’t put me into your trap, how much you know about the FBI report”, he said. “You are a Khmer child with Khmer blood, and you recorded my voice without permission”, Om Yentieng said, adding that the reporter could face a court complaint.

Officials then confiscated the reporters’ voice recorders and deleted material from the Q&A.

The OPCC said “journalists clearly have a right to raise questions” about the 1997 grenade attack, and Om Yentieng’s action was “incompatible” with Cambodia’s laws. Confiscation of tapes and/or recorders is a form of pre-publication censorship prohibited by Article 3 of the 1995 Press Law, OPCC said.

Journalists have a responsibility to obtain information “by fair methods”, which includes asking public officials questions of public interest “at or after a press conference”, OPCC said.

Council of Ministers Spokesman Phay Siphan said yesterday the question was an “insult.”

“I wish that we don’t challenge each other but work for the public interest”, he said.

Pa Nguon Teang, director of the Cambodian Centre for Independent Media said such actions could undermine public support in the government’s anti-corruption efforts.

“We see a lot of things like this and they have never been prosecuted”, he said. “It shows that the system here is an undemocratic system, a kind of authoritarian system”.

On January 14, a photographer from The Post was taking pictures of an eviction at the controversial Boeung Kak lake development project, but was detained by police who deleted photos from his camera.

“It is hard for us to believe that the activities fighting against corruption will be truly successful because everything in this country is not independent”, Pa Nguon Teang said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY VONG SOKHENG

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting