The Cambodia Daily shuts down after 24 years

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September 4, 2017 will see the final edition of one of the few independent newspapers in Cambodia, The Cambodia Daily. The paper announced that it will close down on that day after 24 years of operation in the politically fragile country.

Officially, the closure is tied to a tax row with the government, but some observers believe it has been the result of a concerted act by the ruling establishment to silence the paper which wasn’t always tame when commenting on Cambodian politics.

The Cambodia Daily‘s publishers were slapped with a $6.3 million tax bill which they said was politically motivated. It was not the only independent media organisation to come under pressure lately. Tax probes have also been announced by the government against the US-funded Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Voice of America (VOA), who, however, say they comply with local laws. A group of local radio stations which carried Khmer-language VOA and RFA content have also been shuttered or banned from broadcasting their content.

“The power to tax is the power to destroy. And after 24 years, one month and 15 days, the Cambodian government has destroyed The Cambodia Daily, a special and singular part of Cambodia’s free press,” the newspaper said in a statement.

The paper blamed “extra-legal threats by the government to close the Daily, freeze its accounts and prosecute the new owner” for the closure. Prime Minister with Hun Sen even branded the owners “thieves” in one of his recent speeches.

The announcement came hours after opposition leader Kem Sokha of the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) was arrested and accused of treason. The CNRP is one of the biggest challenges for Hun Sens ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) in the upcoming next general elections due to be held on July 29, 2018.

The Cambodia Daily was set up in 1993 by veteran US journalist Bernard Krisher in the aftermath of Cambodia’s genocide from 1975 to 1978 and subsequent civil war. It started as a newspaper dedicated to setting up a sound foundation for a free press and training journalists in Cambodia, publishing in English and also carrying selected articles in Khmer.

On the Cambodian market, it competed with the Phnom Penh Post (founded in 1992 by activist journalists Michael Hayes and Kathleen O’Keefe) and Khmer Times (founded in 2014 by Malaysian businessman T. Mohan)

The Cambodia Daily, owned by Deborah Krisher-Steele who bought it from her father Bernard Krisher in April 2017, said it will seek the dissolution of the holding structure. Krishner, who lives in Japan, rejects all allegations of tax avoidance, asserts that the way he operated the paper was lawful and invites the government of Cambodia to prosecute him if it believes otherwise.

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September 4, 2017 will see the final edition of one of the few independent newspapers in Cambodia, The Cambodia Daily. The paper announced that it will close down on that day after 24 years of operation in the politically fragile country. Officially, the closure is tied to a tax row with the government, but some observers believe it has been the result of a concerted act by the ruling establishment to silence the paper which wasn't always tame when commenting on Cambodian politics. The Cambodia Daily's publishers were slapped with a $6.3 million tax bill which they said was politically...

Reading Time: 2 minutes

September 4, 2017 will see the final edition of one of the few independent newspapers in Cambodia, The Cambodia Daily. The paper announced that it will close down on that day after 24 years of operation in the politically fragile country.

Officially, the closure is tied to a tax row with the government, but some observers believe it has been the result of a concerted act by the ruling establishment to silence the paper which wasn’t always tame when commenting on Cambodian politics.

The Cambodia Daily‘s publishers were slapped with a $6.3 million tax bill which they said was politically motivated. It was not the only independent media organisation to come under pressure lately. Tax probes have also been announced by the government against the US-funded Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Voice of America (VOA), who, however, say they comply with local laws. A group of local radio stations which carried Khmer-language VOA and RFA content have also been shuttered or banned from broadcasting their content.

“The power to tax is the power to destroy. And after 24 years, one month and 15 days, the Cambodian government has destroyed The Cambodia Daily, a special and singular part of Cambodia’s free press,” the newspaper said in a statement.

The paper blamed “extra-legal threats by the government to close the Daily, freeze its accounts and prosecute the new owner” for the closure. Prime Minister with Hun Sen even branded the owners “thieves” in one of his recent speeches.

The announcement came hours after opposition leader Kem Sokha of the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) was arrested and accused of treason. The CNRP is one of the biggest challenges for Hun Sens ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) in the upcoming next general elections due to be held on July 29, 2018.

The Cambodia Daily was set up in 1993 by veteran US journalist Bernard Krisher in the aftermath of Cambodia’s genocide from 1975 to 1978 and subsequent civil war. It started as a newspaper dedicated to setting up a sound foundation for a free press and training journalists in Cambodia, publishing in English and also carrying selected articles in Khmer.

On the Cambodian market, it competed with the Phnom Penh Post (founded in 1992 by activist journalists Michael Hayes and Kathleen O’Keefe) and Khmer Times (founded in 2014 by Malaysian businessman T. Mohan)

The Cambodia Daily, owned by Deborah Krisher-Steele who bought it from her father Bernard Krisher in April 2017, said it will seek the dissolution of the holding structure. Krishner, who lives in Japan, rejects all allegations of tax avoidance, asserts that the way he operated the paper was lawful and invites the government of Cambodia to prosecute him if it believes otherwise.

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