Week – 533 – Sunday, 2007-11-11: How to Mirror the Widely Varying Reality of the Khmer Press
The Mirror, Vol. 11, No. 533
It is a regular challenge to decide how to mirror the Khmer language press so that it is am appropriate mirroring – that means it is showing the widely different opinions and positions in the Khmer press. Nobody who follows what is going on in the press will probably dare to say that there is an objectively correct way to do so, especially if there is only a limited space available for this endeavor every day from Monday to Saturday. It is impossible to achieve a balanced view every day; it may be difficult to achieve this balance over the span of one week; but we try to achieve this goal over time. That this seems to work I learned from the fact that our editorial choices have been accused at times to be too close to the government, while this was balanced by accusations at other times that we are too close to being an opposition paper. Both is not our intention.
We have also received the well-meaning advice to always use mainly middle-of-the-road opinions, though from different camps, to be on the safe side. But this would not correspond to the main task of the Mirror: to really reflect what is going on in the Khmer press. By doing so, we may have contributed to show one aspect of the Khmer printed press which is not always seen and not always appreciated: the fact that the Khmer printed press is much freer than the press in several other countries in the region.
The translated text from Saturday is such an example: it presents – though based on an article of a foreign publication – points of view which are obviously not expressed by many other publications. Though it takes an extremely negative position about many aspects of the recent history of Cambodia, we carry it – not to endorse its content, which is never the purpose of any of our mirrorings – to show the wide spectrum of public opinion in the Khmer printed press.
During the recent meeting of the Summit of Latin American Nations, Spain and Portugal, held in Chile, the President of Venezuela called the former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar a ‘fascist,’ who had strongly supported the policy of the US government to attack Iraq,. The present government of Spain, which was elected to replace and change the course of the former one; it has fundamentally reversed its position as over the war in Iraq. Nevertheless the present Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero strongly rejected the classification of his predecessor – with whom he deeply disagrees – as a ‘fascist,’ pointing to the fact that his predecessor had received his position as a result of elections. To criticize him as a ‘fascist’ implies to criticize the Spanish people who elected him. It was reported as an extraordinary event that the King of Spain, also attending this meeting, called on the President of Venezuela to shut up, when the latter continued to repeat his accusations against the former elected prime minister.
Without going into any other details, it may also be appropriate to consider, whether the accusation of vote fraud at election times combined with the statement that the National Election Committee was under the control of the majority party, are sufficient reason to accuse the party which has increased its majority from vote to vote of dominating. It was the votes of the vast majority of the Cambodian people – even if there vote fraud – who elected the majority party with increased majorities.
When it is alleged in the said article from Saturday that the weakening of the second largest party was achieved through buying the feelings of its higher officials, including “especially of military chiefs and of police chiefs,” it cannot be avoided to consider both sides: not only whether such efforts to buy others were made, but also to consider who was prepared to be bought.
To complain that one party has substantially increased its majority share over the years – without splitting up – while the major alternative political parties went through many split-offs and break-ups, raises already important questions towards the next elections to come.