After denying interview, Mu Sochua says CTN is a CPP 'tool'.
SAM Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua turned down an interview request from the Cambodian Television Network (CTN) upon her arrival Saturday evening at Phnom Penh International Airport, then lashed out at the private station in an interview Monday, calling it "a tool" of the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP).
"In its broadcasts, it makes attacks on the Sam Rainsy Party and other opposition politicians, who are not given the chance to respond," said the lawmaker, who was returning from a trip to the United States.
Soy Sopheap, the CTN reporter who approached Mu Sochua, said he had ordered his cameraman to take her photo and then asked for an interview.
In response to her charges of bias, he said Mu Sochua herself was not neutral.
"She turned down an interview with me and then provided interviews with Voice of America and Voice of Democracy radio," he said. "So how can she accuse me of not being neutral?"
He went on to say that no media outlet was truly independent.
He said he had no personal animosity towards Mu Sochua, who is currently being sued for defamation by Prime Minister Hun Sen, but suggested that she had overreacted to his interview request.
"If she does not want journalists to take her photos, she should quit politics," he said.
He also said CTN did in fact give all political parties the opportunity to respond to critical reports about them.
Koul Panha, the executive director of the election monitor Comfrel, declined to comment specifically on the spat, though he said he did not believe any television stations provided balanced coverage.
He also said he would not decline interview requests because of perceived bias on the part of a particular network.
"If they broadcast the interview wrong, we can just use the Press Law," he said, referring to the 1995 law pertaining to defamation and false information offences.