The Foreign Affairs Ministry yesterday denied an accusation by The Cambodia Daily that the government closed its operations and bank account due to its criticism of the government.
A ministry statement said that many media outlets are operating freely as long as they comply with the country’s laws, especially paying tax.
It said that a lot of media outlets in Khmer and foreign languages which fulfilled their obligation in accordance with the laws continue to operate freely and enjoy freedom of expression without hindrance.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation wishes to vehemently deny The Cambodia Daily’s accusation that the Royal Government of Cambodia shut its operation and closed its bank account due to its critical stance,” the statement said.
The Foreign Ministry’s statement came after the newspaper’s former general manager Douglas Steele posted on Twitter earlier this month that the newspaper’s website was blocked because of censorship.
Mr Douglas could not be reached for comment yesterday.
“They blocked the Daily’s bank accounts on September 6 [last year]. [We] could not bill subscribers/advertisers, could not pay journalists/printer.” he said earlier. “Seized bank accounts made operations in Phnom Penh impossible so after 24 years, we halted print.”
The ministry said the accusation was false.
This accusation is false and not based on fact at all,” the statement said, adding that the newspaper’s bank account was freezed because its owner failed to respond to the General Department of Taxation in 30 days.
It added that following records of the GDT, The Cambodia Daily operated its business since 2007 without paying taxes.
On August 4, 2017, the GDT sent a letter to The Cambodia Daily to settle unpaid tax of $6.3 million from 2007 to 2016, to which the latter had 30 days to respond, the statement said.
It added that the newspaper owner postponed the meetings on numerous occasions and shut down its publication on its own for failing to comply with its tax obligations.
The statement said that after the deadline, the GDT applied measures in accordance with the Law on Taxation by freezing the newspaper’s bank account in September last year.
The Foreign Ministry reiterated that The Cambodia Daily could resume its publication as long as it pays the tax bill.