Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Trump ban cited in media threat

Trump ban cited in media threat

Council of Ministers spokesperson Phay Siphan, photographed at a local media studio. Facebook
Council of Ministers spokesperson Phay Siphan, photographed at a local media studio. Facebook

Trump ban cited in media threat

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan took to Facebook on Saturday to threaten to “crush” media entities that endanger “peace and stability”, citing US President Donald Trump’s treatment of the press as a justification for the warning.

Specifically naming news services Voice of Democracy, Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, the government spokesman told all “foreign agents” to “consider a new use of airtime as well as published stories” or risk being dismantled.

In the post, Siphan referenced the recent White House decision to exclude certain media outlets like CNN and the New York Times from attending a meeting in the press secretary’s office on Thursday.

“Donald Trump’s ban of international media giants … sends a clear message that President Trump sees that news published by those media institutions does not reflect the real situation,” Siphan wrote in an apparent reference to Trump’s tendency to label news as “fake”.

“Freedom of expression must be located within the domain of the law and take into consideration national interests and peace. The president’s decision has nothing to do with democracy or freedom of expression,” Siphan continued.

Reached on the phone yesterday, Siphan doubled down on his comments, saying they were a “warning to return to professionalism and responsibility”.

When asked what would happen to a media outlet that does not heed this warning, Siphan said “Shut it down, very simple. Expel them”.

“We wish to see diversity of ideas, but we are one nation and must be all together,” he added.

Ouk Kimseng, spokesman for the Ministry of Information, supported Siphan’s comments. “Any article or writing that leads to destabilisation might face these consequences,” he said, defining “destabilisation” as anything that incites or lures people to commit a crime.

The threats to media outlets were met with alarm by democracy advocates. Neb Sinthay, director of the Advocacy and Policy Institute, said these comments are a “big concern”.

“I don’t believe the professional media harms the country . . . in general, they serve the best interest of society,” said Sinthay.

“Cambodia is really restricted for freedom of expression . . . we are worried about the human rights aspect,” he added.

His concerns were echoed by Wan-Hea Lee, of the UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights. “Any measures to censure or arbitrarily shut down media outlets would be inconsistent with Cambodian laws and policies,” she said.

“With respect to the comment regarding foreign-funded media outlets, it should be noted that the Press Law allows foreigners to own Khmer-language newspapers,” Lee added.

Representatives from the US Embassy declined to comment, as did VOD director Nop Vy and Jeevita Sun, senior editor at RFA. The US provides direct funding to VOA and RFA.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Takeo hand-woven silk items provide local high-quality alternative to imports

    After graduating from university and beginning her career as a civil servant at the the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Khieu Sina found time to establish a business that aligns with her true passion – quality hand-woven Khmer goods. Her product line, known as Banteay Srei,

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,

  • 11th Chaktomuk Short Film Festival draws to close

    Cambodia's 11th Chaktomuk Short Film Festival wrapped up successfully on November 28 after a four-day run, with the film “Voice of the Night” awarded top prize for 2022. Sum Sithen, the organiser of the short film festival, told The Post that the number of attendees to the