THE Khmer press contributed as much as anyone to the muddle surrounding
American foreign policy or non-policy in the past fortnight.
The local NGO Open Forum of Cambodia, in its weekly overview of the local
press published in its newsletter The Mirror, said: "It is no surprise
that the real position of the US government... was reported so hotly in
Athippadey newspaper carried, for instance, the stories: "Hun Sen will
be sentenced in international court; Sam Rainsy will be sentenced in Khmer
court"; and the slightly more confusing: "CMAC is helping to hide
The opposition Moneaksekar Khmer, on the same day, carried a seemingly outrageous
three-story spread: "Hun Sen starts to declare war against the US";
"The gun to kill Hun Sen is the National Assembly"; and "[Hun
Sen] wanted to be victorious over Kem Sokha, has decided to commit suicide."
The polar views of Proyuth and Rasmei Angkor came to the fore with their
respective leads: "If the US doesn't show its power Hun Sen will not
be scared off" and "Will Cambodia finally return to the year 1975?
If the US still interferes and the King still keeps quiet, what will happen?"
Smaradey Khmer possibly carried the most imaginative headlines: "14
FBI officials arrive in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen brought forces from the countryside
to surround Phnom Penh" and "Cambodians are understanding some
part of democracy, prison is coming to Hun Sen."
All this, and it was only Monday.
Tuesday, Moneaksekar Khmer followed up its scoop on Hun Sen declaring war
with the United States with "Please tell, when will Hun Sen order to
attack the US Embassy?" and a story headlined with a question whose
answer may be self-evident: "Why does Hun Sen hate opposition newspapers?"
Cheat, meanwhile, gave the CPP-faithful: "Without Hun Sen, Ranariddhhas
not only his tail but his head cut off"; "Dana Rohra-bacher is
being crazed by Ranariddh and Sam Rainsy's promises"; and "The
working group talked about crazy issues."
Rasmei Kampuchea, meanwhile, that day published a story that will probably
end up scooping all other media foreign or local with: "Royal government
is planning to take legal action against Rohrabacher in international court."
On Wednesday the opposition papers carried stories detailing how Hun Sen
won't find any place to hide if he "dares to kill US citizens",
and "US doesn't recognize Cambodian government which was created from
The pro-government media responded with: "Will the US promote Sam Rainsy
to be prime minister?" and the more rational "No legal grounds
to charge Hun Sen with genocide".
The headlines got wackier as the week went on.
"Rainsy-Ranariddh were convicted by international tribunal as war criminals
in Cambodia", suggested Phnom Penh, which also carried "Khmer
politicians are crazy" and "Foreigners continue to interfere in
On Friday, there was: "Hun Sen dares to fight against the US, but bows
to yuon" the continuation of a very familiar theme and "The US
is a war criminal!" from Chakraval.
The last word could well be left to Koh Santepheap: "Government is
looking for real US position".