New Proprietor Paper Starts by Shooting editor

Kenny Tucker
May 10, 2018

About 30 radio stations were shut past year and the Cambodia Daily, an English-language newspaper, shut down after it was ordered to pay millions of dollars in back taxes by the government or face closure. "They did not cite any specific factual a direct result, they also fired our editor-in-chief".

Another newspaper critical of the government was also forced to close. The Post itself had owed $3.9 million in taxes, but that bill was settled as part of the sale, The Post reported.

Former majority shareholder Bill Clough announced the sale of The Post on May 6 following a multimillion-dollar tax dispute with the Cambodian government that echoed the shuttering of The Cambodia Daily in September 2017 over a tax bill of over US$6 million.

Crisis gripped Cambodia's last independent newspaper today as the editor-in-chief was sacked by its new owner over a front-page article on the sale, while several senior reporters resigned in protest at the apparent attack on editorial integrity.

That second blow to the paper's independence came quickly. "I acted according to journalistic professionalism, but the company said they can not keep me in my position".

Managing editor Stuart White, who has worked for the Post for six years, was the first staff member to refuse to remove the article. Kay Kimsong, the publication's editor in chief, told CNN he had been fired by the paper's new management.

In response to an email, his assistant, Krishna Kumaar, said Ganapathy was expected to return in two weeks.

Critics mentioned the lack of an impartial press would have profound implications in Cambodia, a rustic that suffered underneath the brutal rule of the Khmer Rouge. But Hun Sen has relied increasingly in recent years on China's political and financial support.

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The sale coincides with a crackdown on opposition parties and independent media by Hun Sen's government. The Australianmentioned the paper had been "remarkably" free from authorities interference.

Cambodia has elections in July. "Today it is clear that the editorial independence of Cambodia's last true independent media is at threat".

More than 20 members of The Post's staff issued a statement expressing "disgust for this decision made in contradiction to the values of a free press that our hardworking staff have upheld since 1992". "Our article was written in an attempt to maintain the transparency and integrity of our paper as we have done for more than 25 years".

Calls to Asia PR's Phnom Penh office were unanswered.

"Now China is its main patron and they have no such interests", he said.

Sivakumar said in a press release distributed to staff on Saturday that he meant to maintain the newspaper's editorial independence.

The newspaper's new owner, Sivakumar, is the chief executive of Asia PR, a Malaysian firm based in Kuala Lumpur.

A lawyer acting for new owner Sivakumar Ganaphty, Ly Tayseng, is reported to have said Kimsong's dismissal was a "business matter" as a result of the newspaper losing money. "I think the odds are greater than 50/50 the paper's coverage will change - and for the worse", he said.

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