Is Radio Free Asia Relevant?

Radio Free Asia claims to be a “private non-profit international radio service” but is funded predominantly by the US government under the direction of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, whose head is appointed by US President George W Bush. 

The Broadcasting Board of Governors also oversees the Voice of America that promotes the policies of the same president, George W Bush, who has mired America’s image by supporting the torture of prisoners, denying them the rights of habeas corpus and the right to a fair trial, and wire taps its citizens.

Radio Free Asia, which is supported by US taxpayers’ money including mine, justifies its existence by providing “news and information” that citizens of totalitarian countries are deprived of. It therefore targets its broadcasts to such “deprived” countries as China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Burma.

RFA also spends millions of dollars in broadcasting to Cambodia. As the publisher of The Cambodia Daily, a newspaper which has appeared every day uninterruptedly for the past 15 years, I would like to challenge RFA’s claim that this is another country that has no free access to news and therefore it needs to be fed RFA’s news feed to be properly informed.

The Cambodia Daily freely disseminates news and opinion without any interference from the government. Our newspaper has never been censored, threatened or otherwise been interfered with even though the powers that be don’t necessarily like what we print.

We are as free as The Washington Post in Washington and The New York Times in New York. We are responsible, and our readers, including those in the highest position in the government here, respect that.

Cambodia also has free access to CNN, the BBC, MSNBC and publications such as TIME, Newsweek, the Bangkok Post, The Wall Street Journal, the International Herald Tribune and The Nation. Thus RFA cannot justifiably claim that its service is justified because Cambodia does not have access to news. RFA incidentally does not practice what it preaches, i.e. adherence to the law. RFA in fact has and is continuing to violate the intellectual property and copyright protection to which The Cambodia Daily is entitled.

For years, RFA has been scanning and illegally transmitting electronically our full content to its offices in Bangkok and Washington, where our work has been reproduced in print and distributed to their staff to be used for their work.

Such electronic transmission of someone else’s copyrighted materialhas been shown to be illegal under US law. RFA sticks out its nose when we have placed a complaint, and I have thus filed a legal claim here in the courts in Phnom Penh. The case is under review and I’m hopeful justice will prevail.

Bernard Krisher is the publisher of The Cambodia Daily.

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