Cambodia PM sides with Donald Trump in attacking media

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Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen, who came to power with the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s and has ruled the country with an iron fist ever since, is sympathising with US President Donald Trump’s antipathy towards the media, accusing them of “stirring anarchy.”

“Donald Trump understands that they are an anarchic group,” the authoritarian ruler said of journalists at an event on February 27 in Phnom Penh and in comments later posted on his Facebook page. He argued that the right to a free press – although enshrined in Cambodia’s constitution – could not come at the expense of “stability”. He further noted that Cambodian journalists who reported on human rights could “undermine national security.”

“We respect rights, but not the rights of anarchy, [but rather] the rights of the rule of law. I hope our foreign friends understand this. Now, in the US itself, CNN and some others could not get into the White House because Donald Trump sees them as causing anarchy,” Hun Sen said, referring to the White House’s controversial decision to exclude certain media outlets, including CNN and the New York Times, from attending a meeting in press secretary Sean Spicer’s office last week.

Hun Sen had said before the US election in November that he hoped Trump would win, as he would be “good for world peace.”

A few days before Hun Sen’s statement, Cambodia’s council of ministers spokesman Phay Siphan vowed to “crush” media entities the country that endanger the “peace and security” of the nation, calling on all “foreign agents” to “self-censor” or be “shut down,” specifically naming US government-funded “foreign agents” Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, as well as local outlet Voice of Democracy.

These attacks come as Hun Sen maintains his strong grip on domestic media in Cambodia. He. through his family, cronies and his political party CPP, has kept near total dominance over the mainstream media for the majority of his rule.

Popular TV stations such as Bayon Television is owned and operated by  Hun Sen’s eldest daughter. Apsara TV is joint-owned by Say Sam Al, CPP Minister of Environment and son of Say Chhum, CPP secretary and the son of CPP Deputy Prime Minister Sok An. Cambodian Broadcasting Corporation and a number of other channels such as CTN and MyTV are all owned by Khmer-Chinese tycoon, Neak Okhna Kith Meng, one of the country’s shady business tycoons close to Hun Sen. PNN TV is controlled by casino tycoon and Hun Sen ally Yong Phat, just to give an impression of the clandestine ownership structures.

Neither for TV and radio stations nor for newspapers there is a functioning press association to promote editorial independence and establish ethical guidelines in Cambodia. Newspapers are controlled through a licensing system and prone to self-censorship, particularly English-language media, or are run by government cronies as well.

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Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, who came to power with the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s and has ruled the country with an iron fist ever since, is sympathising with US President Donald Trump's antipathy towards the media, accusing them of "stirring anarchy." "Donald Trump understands that they are an anarchic group," the authoritarian ruler said of journalists at an event on February 27 in Phnom Penh and in comments later posted on his Facebook page. He argued that the right to a free press – although enshrined in Cambodia’s constitution – could not come at the expense...

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen, who came to power with the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s and has ruled the country with an iron fist ever since, is sympathising with US President Donald Trump’s antipathy towards the media, accusing them of “stirring anarchy.”

“Donald Trump understands that they are an anarchic group,” the authoritarian ruler said of journalists at an event on February 27 in Phnom Penh and in comments later posted on his Facebook page. He argued that the right to a free press – although enshrined in Cambodia’s constitution – could not come at the expense of “stability”. He further noted that Cambodian journalists who reported on human rights could “undermine national security.”

“We respect rights, but not the rights of anarchy, [but rather] the rights of the rule of law. I hope our foreign friends understand this. Now, in the US itself, CNN and some others could not get into the White House because Donald Trump sees them as causing anarchy,” Hun Sen said, referring to the White House’s controversial decision to exclude certain media outlets, including CNN and the New York Times, from attending a meeting in press secretary Sean Spicer’s office last week.

Hun Sen had said before the US election in November that he hoped Trump would win, as he would be “good for world peace.”

A few days before Hun Sen’s statement, Cambodia’s council of ministers spokesman Phay Siphan vowed to “crush” media entities the country that endanger the “peace and security” of the nation, calling on all “foreign agents” to “self-censor” or be “shut down,” specifically naming US government-funded “foreign agents” Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, as well as local outlet Voice of Democracy.

These attacks come as Hun Sen maintains his strong grip on domestic media in Cambodia. He. through his family, cronies and his political party CPP, has kept near total dominance over the mainstream media for the majority of his rule.

Popular TV stations such as Bayon Television is owned and operated by  Hun Sen’s eldest daughter. Apsara TV is joint-owned by Say Sam Al, CPP Minister of Environment and son of Say Chhum, CPP secretary and the son of CPP Deputy Prime Minister Sok An. Cambodian Broadcasting Corporation and a number of other channels such as CTN and MyTV are all owned by Khmer-Chinese tycoon, Neak Okhna Kith Meng, one of the country’s shady business tycoons close to Hun Sen. PNN TV is controlled by casino tycoon and Hun Sen ally Yong Phat, just to give an impression of the clandestine ownership structures.

Neither for TV and radio stations nor for newspapers there is a functioning press association to promote editorial independence and establish ethical guidelines in Cambodia. Newspapers are controlled through a licensing system and prone to self-censorship, particularly English-language media, or are run by government cronies as well.

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