Different Opinions about the End of the Publication of Moneaksekar Khmer – Monday, 13.7.2009

Posted on 14 July 2009. Filed under: Week 621 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 621

Moneaksekar Khmer – ‘Khmer Conscience’ – which had been an opposition newspaper for more than 10 years, stopped its publication, and this newspaper can no longer be purchased at the newspaper stands in Phnom Penh since 10 July 2009. The end of the publication of this opposition newspaper makes an opposition voice disappear, and supporters, including civil society, really regret this.

“But the Sam Rainsy Party does not blame the editor-in-chief [of Moneaksekar Khmer, Mr. Dam Sith,] for it understands his difficulties.

Moneaksekar Khmer halted its publication in exchange for the order from Mr. Hun Sen to government lawyers to withdraw 18 complaints, related to 18 articles previously published by Moneaksekar Khmer, which the government claims are inciting and provoking friction among the Cambodian People’s Party, and the complaints were brought to the court as criminal complaints. Because of these complaints by the government for alleged disinformation, the editor-in-chief wrote letters of apology to Mr. Hun Sen and to other leaders of the Cambodian People’s Party, surprisingly with the promise to support the government policy under the leadership of Mr. Hun Sen, and Mr. Dam Sith agreed to stop the publication of Moneaksekar Khmer.

“The deputy prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, Mr. Sok Kalyan, told The Cambodia Daily on Friday that he had been ordered to withdraw the complaints against Mr. Dam Sith, but he added that he has not yet decided whether to continue to follow up on this case or not.

“The editor-in-chief was quoted by The Cambodia Daily yesterday that there were no newspapers on sale on Friday any longer, but he did not add any further comments.

“This end of the publication of Moneaksekar Khmer came at the time after the Phnom Penh Court had convicted the editor-in-chief of Khmer Machas Srok [also an opposition newspaper], Mr. Hang Chakra, to serve 12 months in prison, and had fined him Riel 9 million [roughly US$2,200] for disinformation and inciting social unrest.

“The loss of well-known newspapers and journalists supporting the Sam Rainsy Party is a problem for the opposition party, when seeing the publication scene in Cambodia at present. Many critics notice that most television and radio stations show a bias in favor of the Cambodian People’s Party, while the opposition parties are allowed to broadcast only two hours per day through some radio stations and some not well-known newspapers.

“Observers and media experts deplore the halt of the publication of Moneaksekar Khmer, and they strongly criticized the decision of the editor-in-chief of Moneaksekar Khmer to close down the newspaper and to apologize, as this poses concerns for the future.

“The executive director of Committee for Free and Fair Elections, Mr. Kol Panha, said that the Sam Rainsy Party now lost one of its few instruments to communicate its messages. He added that, worst of all, the apology by the editor-in-chief of Moneaksekar Khmer for articles previously published in his newspaper might weaken the opposition against the government and the ruling party.

“Mr. Kol Panha said, ‘This apology affects the opposition party, as it means that previously published criticism was wrong.’

“The director of the Cambodian Institute for Media Studies, Mr. Moeun Chhean Nariddh, said on 10 July 2009 that Moneaksekar Khmer had played an important role in the media of Cambodia, functioning as an opposition voice to stand against the many pro-government newspapers. He said, ‘Moneaksekar Khmer raised a voice from another side, not the voice of the government. Therefore, we now lost the balance in the media.’

“Mr. Chhean Nariddh added that the decision of the editor-in-chief to halt the publication of Moneaksekar Khmer and his apology for the articles that had been published, can affect the future of the local media. He stressed, ‘We don’t want the culture of apology; the court had not yet found that he is guilty. His decision to apologize is therefore serious.’

“The director of the Sambok Khmum Radio, which frequently broadcasts criticism and sells air-time hours to the Sam Rainsy Party and to the Human Rights Party, Mr. Mam Sonando, believes that Mr. Dam Sith decided to stop the publication under pressure from the government. However, he added that an individual who works with a public voice for an opposition party should withstand, upholding their conviction, even though they might be imprisoned.

“He went on to say, ‘They (the government) will not abandon their strategy of threats, but that is their problem. As for us, as a challenging team, we must be clear – if having said something and then we are arrested and sent to prison, let it happen. To apologize so that you are not imprisoned is wrong.’ He added, ‘They can jail me, but they cannot jail my opinions and my will. I have been imprisoned twice and if it happens a third time, I will drive my motorbike to the prison and wait at the gate.’

“The Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Battambang, Mr. Eng Chhay Ieng, said that Mr. Dam Sith does not disappoint the Sam Rainsy Party because of his apology to Prime Minister Hun Sen. He added that Mr. Dam Sith still stays with the Sam Rainsy Party; ‘We know his difficulties.’ He continued to say, ‘I am not surprised, because I know the policy of the current leaders who do not want to hear an opposition voice.’ He is worried about the impact on the Sam Rainsy Party, as it can lose support from Khmer citizens.

“The spokesperson of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Phay Siphan, said that Mr. Dam Sith decided himself to close Moneaksekar Khmer. He said, ‘He did it for his personal reasons, and no one forced him to close Moneaksekar Khmer.’”Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #445, 12-14.7.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 13 July 2009

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1994, 12-13.7.2009

  • [Four to six] Armed Persons Shot to Rob a Money Exchanger in Tuol Sangkae for More Than US$4,000, Injuring One Person [before they escaped, Phnom Penh]
  • Eight More British Soldiers Died in Afghanistan, the number of deaths of British soldiers in Afghanistan stands at 184 [since 2001]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #445, 12-14.7.2009

  • Different Opinions about the End of the Publication of Moneaksekar Khmer
  • A Statement of the World Bank Shows that Mr. Sam Rainsy’s Words Are Right, while Mr. Hun Sen’s Words Are Wrong – Relating to Poor and Unemployed People [according to the statement, 200,000 workers lost their jobs at garment factories, construction sectors, in the tourism service sector, etc. and 10,000 people fell under the poverty line defined by the United Nations, defined as having less than US$1 per day]
  • The Preah Vihear Governor [Mr. Preap Tann] Died [of a stroke]
  • A [wild animal] Merchant Military Commander Who Was Alleged to Have Burned and Killed a Worker over a Lost Pangolin Is Arrested [Pursat]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6700, 13.7.2009

  • The Japan International Cooperation Agency [JICA] Continues to Assist a Project against Tuberculosis for Three More Years in Cambodia]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4944, 12-13.7.2009

  • The World Bank Provides Cambodia a Credit of US$13 Million [to increase food security for poor families, and to expand support for a social security network]
  • A [new] National Airline of Cambodia [Cambodia Angkor Air] Will Cooperate with Vietnam Airlines [it will launch its first flight on 27 July 2009 at the Kengkong Airport in Sihanoukville]
  • India Has 20 More Scholarships for the Senate of Cambodia
  • G8 Promises to Provide US$20 Billion for Poor Nations

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1748, 13.7.2009

  • A High Ranking Official of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Inspection [Mr. Seng Yean, the head of the Department of Inspection] Is Removed from His Position and Sent to the Court over a Corruption Allegation of US$20,000

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.

And please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

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