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PM warns of media anarchy

Taing Vida / Khmer Time Share:
Prime Minister Hun Sen speaking yesterday. Supplied

Prime Minister Hun Sen warned the media yesterday that he was determined to maintain social order, citing US President Donald Trump’s exclusion of some news outlets from a White House briefing.
Speaking at a National Clean City Day event, Mr. Hun Sen repeated his opposition to any attempt to destroy peace in Cambodia. 
Speaking obliquely about the United States, a country that has often criticized the human rights situation in Cambodia, Mr. Hun Sen said he respected human rights, but opposed those who used those rights to destroy the nation.
“Do not talk about rights,” he said. “The right to anarchy is the right to damage the nation.
“I acknowledge rights, but not the right to anarchy. I hope foreign partners understand this.” 
He reminded his audience of Mr. Trump’s decision to ban certain media from a White House press briefing because Mr. Trump believed they considered him to be a dictator.
“Mr. Trump saw them as anarchists. He stopped these groups entering the White House,” he said. 
“They alleged Mr. Trump was a dictator. Some people just talk about rights, but they do not mention peace and stability.
“I want to ask, during the Khmer Rouge period, were those who died able to write news?”
Last week, the Trump administration banned CNN, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Politico, Buzzfeed, BBC and The Guardian from a group of journalists at a press conference with White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
Phay Siphan, the spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said there was a clear message involving the interests of the government.
This emerged from citizens’ responses to freedom of the press, he said. Mr. Trump believed the excluded media institutions did conform to the reality of the news and the responsibilities of the journalists’ profession.
He said Mr. Trump’s decision was within the powers of the state, which should not get mixed up with the scope of democracy or freedom of expression.
State institutions have superiority in their decisions and responsibilities, he said.
This was a message globally for reporters and journalists to consider in term of professionalism and their responsibilities, particularly in responding to the rights of citizens to receive information in terms of facts and not fiction and bias.
“In Cambodia, Radio Free Asia, Voice of America and Voice of Democracy and a few others that receive allowances from abroad and act as foreign agents must consider a new use of airtime and think about what they publish before the government takes action in response to misleading news, incitement and threats to peace and stability of Cambodia,” Mr. Siphan said.
Moeun Chhean Nariddh, the director of the Cambodian Institute of Media Studies, said the government should not follow the exact practice of the US. Freedom of the professional media should be promoted and ensured, he said.
The government would not always be able to lead the country in the right way and there would be mistakes, he added. 
“So allow the professional media to take its role of observing mistakes and act as a mirror to reflect the missing points. This is good for the government,” he said. 
“I think it would be a loss for the government to ban media from broadcasting sensitive information.”

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