Voice of Democracy (VOD), the online outlet along with a radio station, becomes the last victim of media restriction policies adopted by the Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, following a news item on 9 February involving the PM’s eldest son that seemingly hurt the dignity of the government in Phnom Penh.
Geneva based Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), the global media safety and rights body, expressed serious concern over the recent closure of a leading independent media outlet, available in Cambodia’s official language Khmer and English by the government and condemns all kinds of media restrictions in the south-east Asian country ahead of the scheduled national elections in July.
According to a statement, Voice of Democracy (VOD), the online outlet along with a radio station, becomes the last victim of media restriction policies adopted by the Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, following a news item on 9 February involving the PM’s eldest son that seemingly hurt the dignity of the government in Phnom Penh. It cancelled the license of VOD, the voice of millions of Cambodians, even though the management tendered an apology for the concerned news-article.
“Cambodian authorities should respect the freedom of the press and it becomes essential as the country of 17 million people is expecting a free & fair general election within six months. If the government does not show its due respect to the media, how can it ensure an honest electoral exercise,” said Blaise Lempen, president of PEC (https://pressemblem.ch/pec-news.shtml), adding that PM Hun Sen must allow all media outlets to function without intervention.
PEC’s south-east Asia representative Nava Thakuria informed that the VOD published an item alleging that Hun Manet, deputy commander of the country’s armed forces, signed a deal relating to Cambodia’s aid to earthquake devastated Turkey, on behalf of his father. Hun Sen denied the allegation and stated that it damaged the government’s reputation. Even when the VOD management asserted that it quoted a government official, he stated that it was unacceptable.
Remaining in power for 38 years, Hun Sen tips to politically empower his son in the ruling Cambodian People’s Party. Earlier, two prominent daily newspapers namely The Cambodian Daily and The Phnom Penh Post faced wrath from the government. Started its venture in 2003, the VOD attracted the readers with a number of investigative and in-depth reports on corruption, mismanagement and misuse of power by the individuals in high places.