The Union of Journalist Federations of Cambodia has urged local unions and media associations to collaborate and conduct a joint evaluation of the Kingdom’s media freedom.
UJFC president Huy Vannak, who was re-elected to his position during its congress on Saturday, said all local unions and media associations should jointly compile a report on media freedom in the country and not to depend on evaluations made by foreign organisations.
“We should hold hands and cooperate to produce a joint assessment report on media freedom and its quality by ourselves,” he said. “Do not allow foreigners to colonise our nation through public opinion.”
“We, journalists, must hold on to the microphone and speak out to promote our values and protect our country’s reputation,” Mr Vannak added. “Do not let foreigners control our sentiments and stances.”
He also called on all Cambodian journalists to strengthen their quality of reporting in order to enhance the reputation of the Kingdom.
“Please strive to keep yourself decisive and independent [in reporting]. We must dare to report the truth and focus on news angles that will promote the country’s reputation,” Mr Vannak noted. “We must focus on activities that are beneficial to society, eliminate immoral and dishonest news, and fight fake news.”
Pen Bona, Club of Cambodian Journalist president, yesterday said he will take Mr Vannak’s request into consideration, noting that they will meet to discuss the issue and ensure the assessment is transparent.
“It’s a good idea, but we will all have to meet and talk about it in detail,” he said. “From what I have learned, reports in connection to media freedom made by foreigners mostly focus on the negative side and just a little on the positive side of media freedom. This does not fully reflect reality.”
Speaking at the event, Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said he welcomes the move, pointing out that an assessment on media freedom in Cambodia was done by media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders in an unprofessional way.
“If you meet them, you will see some of them are not journalists. Although they work with journalist associations, they are administrators, not journalists,” he noted. “Some are even younger than you all. I think journalists should evaluate themselves.”
Mr Kanharith also encouraged all Cambodian journalists to improve their understanding of laws, keep up with advanced technology and have more analysis in their reports.
Reporters Without Borders ranked Cambodia 143 out of 180 countries in its 2019 Press Freedom Index.