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Al Jazeera’s covert interference in Cambodia election

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The logo of Al Jazeera Media Network is seen at the MIPTV, the International Television Programs Market, event in Cannes April 2, 2012. Reuters

While the whole world is looking at the drama unfolding in the United States, Russia and Europe on foreign intervention to manipulate the 2016 US presidential election – amidst allegations of fake news flying about – Al Jazeera, a reputable mainstream media, has moved to Cambodia in a series of supposedly explosive ‘expose’ videos.

One of it implicates the director-general of the General Department of Taxation, Kong Vibol, and shifts from Mr Vibol and his alleged business interests in Cambodia and Australia to the alleged GDT crackdown on so-called independent media with the imposition of hefty tax bills.

This video clip is a clear case of a foreign-owned media trying to covertly interfere in the July 29 election and portraying the GDT director-general and the country as a whole in a very bad light. The efforts Al Jazeera has taken to demonise the GDT, its director-general and at the same time question the department’s credibility and integrity is astonishing.

In another video clip, Al Jazeera shows Sam Rainsy making unsubstantiated atrocious statements and it is clear that its motive is to keep Mr Rainsy relevant while insidiously criticising the government.

By playing up the murder of Kem Ley, highlighting clips on his widow and children and her claims of being fearful is pathetic and downright inflammatory, especially with the general election around the corner.

Media freedom in Cambodia is there for all and sundry to see. Even Khmer Times which is often accused of being a government mouthpiece, has shown the whole world that it is independent and neutral with regard to the election and gives every single party participating in the July 29 election, equal time to highlight their agenda and debate live on Facebook – with the full videos posted on Facebook and the daily’s website as well.

Given this scenario, why is Al Jazeera going down this path of demonising certain individuals within the government and the prime minister’s family with non-proven allegations of extraordinary wealth, quoting verbatim the incorrect report of Global Witness and so forth?

Is it now taking on the role of championing a has been opposition leader who is now nothing more than a delusional individual with grand designs for power through forced regime change, and who would stop at nothing to demonise the Cambodian government and its leaders?

Mr Rainsy is calling for a nationwide boycott of the July 29 election, which he says is a sham. The 1991 Paris Peace Accords sought to strengthen democracy in the country through elections. A boycott call would relegate what Cambodians had fought so hard to free themselves from the yoke of domination by foreign powers.

And now, we see foreign powers meddling again in Cambodia’s internal affairs through the grand designs of Mr Rainsy and his cohorts in public positions in the United States who just want regime change through any means possible – even to the extent of instigating violence on the streets.

History has proven that ballot boxes determine the future of a country and its people. Violent insurrection has no place in Cambodia and history is littered with examples of how it could cause immense suffering and turmoil.

Maybe that is Al Jazeera’s intention in its tainted attempts to criticise the government and by talking to two individuals as informed sources whose record in Cambodia, in their former position, is far from being impeccable.

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