The Information Ministry has asked Radio Free Asia to stop using the words “Phnom Penh regime” in its broadcasts as a condition for it to reopen its office in the Kingdom.
The request was made on Friday during a meeting between Information Minister Khieu Kanharith and Matthew Pennington, RFA’s managing director for Southeast Asia, at the ministry.
Ministry spokesman Meas Sophorn yesterday said that Mr Pennington had asked Mr Kanharith if RFA could reopen the bureau which it had shuttered in 2017, citing pressure from the government.
“The minister welcomed the reopening of the bureau, but asked RFA to stop using the words “Phnom Penh Regime” and to follow the Kingdom’s laws,” he said. “RFA can reopen its bureau when it changes that word and follows the laws.”
“Cambodia is called the Kingdom of Cambodia,” Mr Sophorn said. “It is not Phnom Penh regime, which is a term used to insult our royal government.”
He said that during the meeting, Mr Pennington had said that RFA will review how it broadcasts news, including what the minister has requested.
Pen Bona, Club of Cambodian Journalists president, yesterday said that he welcomes RFA’s decision to reopen its office, noting that people will have more choice to pick up news.
“We saw from the beginning that it is better to sit together and negotiate issues,” he said. “We knew that RFA operated in Phnom Penh but they weren’t registered with the ministry.”
“The ministry is also right in asking RFA to stop using the words Phnom Penh regime because it means that RFA does not recognise the government,” Mr Bona added.