J USTICE Minister Chem Sgnoun has slammed "those newspapers backed by Sam Rainsy"
as being not only critical but of "injuring the personalities of the
Sgnoun was commenting on the stiff fines and jail sentences
meted out by the courts to the two editors last month.
"There are four or
five newspapers that we, the government, know are backed by Sam Rainsy," he
"We don't know if he assists them with money or what, but we know
instantly from the articles that they are from Rainsy," he said. Both the New
Liberty News and the Khmer Ideal, which were last month closed down and whose
editors were fined five million riel - and one also jailed - were part of the
alleged Rainsy stable, he indicated.
"We accept criticism from the Phnom
Penh Post, the Cambodia Daily, Reasmei Kampuchea but the government doesn't do
anything because the language used is polite."
"But for those other
newspaper backed by Sam Rainsy, they injure and insult the personalities of the
leaders and they cannot accept that," Sgnoun said.
"Hun Sen complained
personally to the court, not as a leader of the government," he
Sgnoun said that not only journalists, but every citizen was
subject to imprisonment for defamation under the penal code drafted by UNTAC and
approved by the Supreme National Council.
"I can't blame the courts for
imprisoning because they have a law to uphold," he said. "If we don't want to
make imprisonment a punishment we have to cancel the penal code."