May has been a tough month for press freedom in Cambodia. On May 5, the Phnom Penh Post, an independent newspaper often critical of the Cambodian government, was sold to a Malaysian investor with links to Prime Minister Hun Sen. And on May 18, a court refused to release two Radio Free Asia reporters who have been held in pretrial detention for six months on charges of espionage.
In less than three months’ time, Cambodians will head to the polls to cast their ballot in the national election. Already faced with the difficult choice of which party and candidate to vote for, Cambodians now have to decide whether they should vote at all.
Head of state Prince Norodom Sihanouk flew home to a Cambodia still suffering political assassinations, ambushes and shelling on the eve of the country’s first multiparty election in decades. “They need me,” the former king said of his people, who have suffered authoritarian rule, bloody revolutionary experimentation, American bombing, Vietnamese invasion and civil war — all since the late 1960s.
After 60 years, Malaysia got its first change of leadership when voters at the weekend booted out the ruling Barisan Nasional party and premier Najib Razak.
The Cambodian free press has entered the darkest days in recent memory.
Now Held for Six Months on Politically Motivated Espionage Charges
My first glimpse of the Phnom Penh Post was whilst waiting at a bus stop on a rainy evening on London’s Rosebery Avenue in 1993; a fellow passenger, a researcher for Amnesty International as it turned out, was reading it.
The sale of The Phnom Penh Post to Malaysian interests with clear links to the Hun Sen government in Cambodia, and the subsequent sackings and resignations of journalists, is already recognised as a sad, even bitter, end to the Post’s admired role as a newspaper that continued to strive for the best journalistic standards.
A country boy, Hun Sen gets up early and works hard. He is said to spend hours every morning on his treadmill, to counter the ravages of his earlier years as a field commander and chain-smoker.
Letter to the editor from Huy Vannak, undersecretary of state for the Interior Ministry
When it chaired the ASEAN Summit in the autumn of 2012, Cambodia arranged for the South China Sea issue to be dropped from the joint statement. This left the strong impression that Cambodia was a mouthpiece for China in Southeast Asia. It is true that China has made significant investments in Cambodia and that the latter’s economy has become increasingly dependent on Chinese money.
Over recent weeks, the situation in Cambodia has turned nasty beyond words. The man in charge, Hun Sen, as been in power for 33 years, rising to the Premiership in 1985 at the age of 32. Now the country’s president, he is 65 years old and swears he will stay in power for at least another 10 years.
Today, the region’s richest and most powerful meet for the start of the World Economic Forum on Asean at the Sokha Hotel on the Chroy Changva peninsula in Phnom Penh, the site of protest in November 2015 and the subject of a land dispute with the local community.
As the article “Rainsy Quits Amid Threats, But CNRP Still inDanger” (February13) notes, Sam Rainsy resigned as president of the CNRP to save his...
The article “Under Fire, Rice Federation Vows Action” (March 10) exposes the crisis facing Cambodia’s rice sector. The looming collapse of the sector would have far-reaching economic, social and political consequences, given the population’s heavy reliance on agriculture in general and the rice industry in particular.
The article “Expensive NGO Phone Apps Gather Digital Dust” (February 25), about our efforts to end violence against women, makes a good point: It’s...
The Ministry of Information would like to inform the editor-in-chief of The Cambodia Daily that the ministry received a diplomatic note from the Embassy...
A Cambodia-based conservationist recently described Virachey National Park as a place littered with the bodies of NGOs that tried to save it. Even the mighty World Bank is counted among the casualties. When the Bank pulled out in 2008, the wildlife conservation groups grabbed some of their dead and wounded from the forests and hopped on the last helicopters out.
On Wednesday, Nuon Chea emerged from his holding cell, as Marie Guiraud underlined, not to express his sympathy and apologies for the suffering victims of the barbarous policies he defined, but to lead the court to endorse the quite inaccurate fact that the U.S. government was a major architect of atrocities inflicted on the Cambodian people throughout the early 1970s.
Every year millions of people around the world are forcibly displaced from their land, homes and livelihoods to make way for large-scale development projects. Most often those who are forced to sacrifice their place on Earth for both public and private interests are amongst the poorest and most vulnerable people in society. They are thus the least equipped to cope with the challenges of physical, economic and social displacement and are as a result most often thrust into even deeper poverty and social exclusion. For development institutions such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which finance many displacement-causing projects in the name of fighting poverty, this problem poses an uneasy contradiction.