Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Use honorifics, ministry tells foreign media

Use honorifics, ministry tells foreign media

Media representatives attend a meeting at the Ministry of Information yesterday in Phnom Penh.
Media representatives attend a meeting at the Ministry of Information yesterday in Phnom Penh. Sen David

Use honorifics, ministry tells foreign media

The Ministry of Information yesterday questioned foreign-backed and English-language publications in the Kingdom, including the Post, over why they had not complied with a December letter asking them to use honorifics bestowed on Cambodian leaders, threatening “action” including potentially pulling licences if non-compliance continued.

Sixteen foreign news outlets, including radio, newspaper and wire services, were asked why they were not using honorific titles given to political leaders and if there were any objections or difficulty to using them.

“We are meeting today to find out from all of you what are the difficulties and why are you not using the titles, bestowed by the King, for top leaders in your media outlets?” said Ouk Kimseng, adviser and spokesman to the ministry, addressing participants at the meeting.

In December, the ministry issued a letter asking all media outlets to use the royally bestowed title of “samdech” when referring to King Norodom Sihamoni and political leaders, including Prime Minister Hun Sen and Heng Samrin.

The title “samdech”, the ministry said, meant “outstanding leadership and love from the people” and had legal value, a “kind of respect”, when referring to these people. At the time, Kimseng said that there were no regulations to punish outlets that did not comply with the “samdech” directive.

But Phos Sovan, director-general at the General Department of Information and Broadcasting, yesterday told attending news organisations that the ministry will now take “action” on the matter, including potentially rescinding licences, adding that local outlets had already complied.

“When they come to request a license from ministry, they promise to obey the conditions of the ministry, but when the ministry suggests using the title of top leaders in their media, they do not obey it,” Sovan said.

Moeun Chhean Nariddh, who heads the Cambodian Institute of Media Studies, said it was unreasonable to impose those types of regulations on independent media publications, adding that the “samdech” directive should be optional.

“The government has taken to stereotype all publications that do not support them,” he said. “Their policy is: if you are not on our side, then you are not independent.”

He said while local-language papers could use the honorific titles, they would make no sense to readers of foreign publications. “Even the King, who has a long line of titles, has never asked for anyone to put his entire title,” he added.

Pen Bona, president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, said that while there were no laws to enforce the usage of “samdech”, it was a matter of tradition. “Each country always has their own traditions and customs,” he said, “I don’t think it will affect their professionalism [to use these titles].”


  • Kak Channthy, Cambodian Space Project frontwoman, killed in crash at 38 [Updated]

    Updated 5:05pm, Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Kak Channthy, frontwoman of popular The Cambodian Space Project, was killed Tuesday morning in a traffic accident in Phnom Penh. She was 38. Channthy, the internationally recognised singer-songwriter also known as “Srey Thy”, was reportedly travelling in a tuk-tuk on the city's

  • Australians protest Asean summit visit by PM Hun Sen

    Hundreds of protesters gathered in Sydney’s Hyde Park on Friday to protest against Cambodian strongman Hun Sen, who claimed to have been gifted millions of dollars by the Australian government ahead of a special Asean summit this weekend. An estimated 300 protesters, the majority of

  • Phnom Penh smothered in smelly, dangerous haze as landfill fire continues burning

    A putrid haze that has bedeviled Phnom Penh since Monday night will likely continue as a landfill in Dangkao district continued to burn on Friday, creating health risks for the capital's residents. Workers at the Dangkao landfill on site on Friday attributed the fire, which

  • Australian police investigating death threat against Kem Ley's widow

    Australian authorities on Thursday confirmed they have launched an investigation into a crudely written death threat sent to the family of slain political analyst Kem Ley and Victoria state MP Hong Lim. The typed letter, reported to Victoria Police last week, appears to be written