Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ruling party hires spin doctors to deflect criticism



Ruling party hires spin doctors to deflect criticism

Ruling party hires spin doctors to deflect criticism

As part of ongoing reforms to improve its image ahead of elections in 2017 and 2018, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party has appointed three official spokesmen to rebut its critics and publicly defend the party.

For at least a decade, just who officially speaks for the CPP has been an enduring question for the media, especially in the aftermath of the July 2013 election.

While there is no shortage of opposition politicians, rights groups and activists willing to attack the party and point out its flaws on a daily basis, the CPP can often not be reached for a response.

Information Minister and former spokesman Khieu Kanharith has in recent years preferred to only respond to questions via Facebook, while senior lawmakers Cheam Yeap and Chheang Vun, who became defacto spokesmen in his place, now often refuse to speak to reporters.

The new appointments were made on February 4, according to a letter signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen and read to the Post by his adviser Chhim Phal Virun yesterday.

The letter states that Phal Virun and two CPP lawmakers – Sous Yara and Sok Eysan – are the new spokesmen.

The decision was made at last weekend’s reform-minded party congress, which saw the CPP stuff its central committee with hundreds of new, and mostly younger, members.

“It is my great honour to gain the trust of the CPP to fulfil this political work and let people know about our achievements,” Phal Virun, who will serve as the primary spokesman, said yesterday.

Phal Virun is well-known among the public and is often used as a pro-government analyst on TV talk shows.

He serves as an adviser to Hun Sen, a legal expert at the Council of Ministers and director of the Institute of Civic Education.

Phal Virun used to be deputy president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights before leaving the organisation and accusing then-president Kem Sokha of corruption in 2006. Sokha is now deputy opposition leader.

The new spokesmen were chosen to defend the CPP and correct supposedly unfair media reporting, Phal Virun said.

“Critics of the government and the CPP have not valued our achievements over the last 30 years … They are not constructive critics, and they exaggerate the truth.”

Eysan, a former director of CPP-owned Apsara TV, said yesterday that the party had been eyeing potential spokespeople for a long time.

“In the past, journalists did not know who the real CPP spokesperson was, and when they asked questions, no one answered,” he said.

“It’s part of our political reforms – to bring information to the media.”

Media studies academic Moeun Chhean Nariddh said it was clear the CPP had realised that the media had become an important political battleground and praised the appointment of official spokesmen.

MOST VIEWED

  • Quarantine still a must for all arrivals, in next Covid chapter

    Since early May, an average of five to 10 Cambodian people have died from Covid-19 a day with many others testing positive amid the ongoing community outbreak. At the same time, however, hundreds of patients also recovered a day. The first Covid-19 case in Cambodia was

  • US wants 'full access' to Ream Naval Base

    On June 11, the US embassy's Defense Attaché Colonel Marcus M Ferrara visited Ream Nava Base in coordination with Cambodian officials following the recent approval of Prime minister Hun Sen to allay the concerns on Chinese military presence at the base as raised by US Deputy

  • First commercial gold mine online

    Australian miner Renaissance Minerals (Cambodia) Ltd on June 21 began the commercial operation of its $120 million Okvau Gold Project in the northeastern province of Mondulkiri, becoming the Kingdom’s first gold producer. Located in the Okvau area in southwestern Mondulkiri province’s Keo Seima district, the

  • Jab drive heading to 5 provinces

    The government is set to vaccinate more than 1.2 million people in five provinces after finishing with Phnom Penh and neighbouring Kandal in an ongoing campaign administered by the ministries of Health and National Defence. The five provinces are Preah Sihanouk, Kampong Speu, Takeo, Kampong Cham

  • New immigration bill targets illegal foreigners in Kingdom

    General Department of Immigration (GDI) officials are discussing revisions to the new draft law on immigration to prevent foreigners from entering Cambodia illegally and to supervise those living in the Kingdom more effectively. The revisions draw wide support among civil society organisations. GDI director-general Kirth

  • Transport minister requests free trial of Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway

    The Ministry of Public Works and Transport held discussions with the company constructing the expressway from Phnom Penh to Preah Sihanouk province to allow drivers to test the road free of charge before an official toll is set. While inspecting the progress of its construction