Gov’t ‘wants RFA and VOA re­opened’

The Phnom Penh Post - - FRONT PAGE - Niem Ch­heng

MIN­IS­TER of In­for­ma­tion Khieu Kan­harith told the out­go­ing US am­bas­sador on Tues­day that the gov­ern­ment in­tended to re­open Ra­dio Free Asia (RFA) and Voice of Amer­ica ( VOA) for “ef­fec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion and to pro­mote freedom of the press in Cam­bo­dia”, lo­cal me­dia re­ported.

But the move has been dis­missed as “just a show” if other sta­tions re­mained closed.

“Kan­harith stressed to the US am­bas­sador that Cam­bo­dia wanted both ra­dio sta­tions to [re­open their] of­fices in Cam­bo­dia to make com­mu­ni­ca­tion [easy],” re­ported Fresh News.

A US Em­bassy spokesman in Ph­nom Penh could not re­ply by press time. How­ever, lo­cal me­dia re­ported that Am­bas­sador Wil­liam A Heidt told Kan­harith that the US was look­ing into “is­sues” re­gard­ing the two ra­dio sta­tions and that they would re­sume broad­cast­ing on lo­cal chan­nels af­ter they had been solved in or­der to strengthen press freedom in the King­dom.

Fresh News re­ported that “Am­bas­sador Heidt is op­ti­mis- tic that when all the is­sues are re­solved suc­cess­fully, the two ra­dio [sta­tions] will re­launch their broad­casts through FM in or­der to pro­mote freedom of the press in Cam­bo­dia”.

Cam­bo­dian Cen­ter for In­de­pen­dent Me­dia di­rec­tor Nop Vy said al­low­ing RFA and VOA to broad­cast again would be “just a show” if other ra­dio sta­tions re­mained closed.

“The two ra­dio sta­tions had broad­cast on around 30 lo­cal FM chan­nels in Cam­bo­dia. If they just have of­fices but can­not broad­cast on those sta­tions, noth­ing will be im­proved as peo­ple still can­not hear their out­put.

“If the gov­ern­ment goes one step fur­ther by al­low­ing lo­cal ra­dio sta­tions to re­sume broad­cast­ing [RFA and VOA] pro­grammes as in­de­pen­dent me­dia, then I think press freedom would be re­stored. If it means they only have of­fices, it is just a show,” he said.

Last year, more than 30 ra­dio sta­tions which rented air­time to RFA and VOA were shut down. RFA closed its op­er­a­tion in Cam­bo­dia in Septem­ber last year, claim­ing that a crack­down on the me­dia had made it im­pos­si­ble to con­tinue op­er­a­tions in the King­dom.

Af­ter clos­ing, two RFA re­porters were ar­rested and charged with “il­le­gally col­lect­ing in­for­ma­tion for a for­eign source”. They were re­leased on bail af­ter the July 29 elec­tions in which the rul­ing Cam­bo­dian Peo­ple’s Party won all 125 seats in the Na­tional Assem­bly.

Min­istr y of In­for­ma­tion spokesman Ouk Kim­seng and other min­istry of­fi­cials could not be reached for com­ment.

Heidt is to step down as US am­bas­sador and be re­placed by W Pa­trick Mur­phy.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Cambodia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.