Mass staff walkout at Phnom Penh Post owner's self-censorship order

Phnom Penh Post's sale could signal the end of independent media in Cambodia

Phnom Penh Post's sale could signal the end of independent media in Cambodia

Rights groups have condemned the crackdown by Hun Sen's government against opposition politicians, independent media and some non-governmental groups.

The pair also said the paper's editor-in-chief Kay Kimsong had been fired.

All stories must now be approved by Purushotman in what critics of the sale, and subsequent events, have said is a further worrying sign that the Post's independent voice has been silenced.

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.

The controversy began after the Phnom Penh Post published an article exposing alleged links between Ganapathy, who is the managing director of Kuala Lumpur-based public relations firm ASIA Public Relations Consultants Sdn Bhd, with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

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"They said that as editor-in-chief I allowed the story about the sale of the Phnom Penh Post to be published". "I didn't feel like I could do that in good conscience, so I resigned immediately". Chief ececutive Marcus Holmes was the last to tender his resignation.

"Media freedom is now an endangered commodity, with the demise of the Put up and the Cambodia Each day, Radio Free Asia thrown overseas and a few of their journalists positioned on trial, and impartial FM radio stations shut down", he mentioned.

"The rest of the Khmer staff just stayed in the meeting to say, 'Can you run a second story?' 'Do not pull [the original] down...run a second article, correction, make a clarification, '" the staffer said.

The paper's new ownership said Sunday in a statement that it was "fully committed" to upholding the 26-year-old newspaper's "principles/independence without infringing any relevant laws and regulations of the Kingdom of Cambodia", The Post reported.

Hun Sen has been consolidating his power ahead of a Lower House election in July.

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Daniel Bastard, head of the Asia-Pacific desk of Reporters Without Borders, expressed his solidarity with the Post's journalists.

Ganapathy's company website lists "Cambodia and Hun Sen's entry into the Government seat" as a former "project". "I wish the fantastic journalists at The Post all the best", tweeted Brendan O'Byrne, the business editor.

The events came weeks after Cambodia dropped 10 places in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index prompting wide concern about the state of freedom of speech in the country.

More than 30 radio stations known to be critical of Hun Sen's rule were silenced by the government a year ago, including Radio Free Asia and Voice of America. "Today it is clear that the editorial independence of Cambodia's last true independent media is at threat".

The Post's sale may indicate that Hun Sun's administration has decided that it no longer needs to allow a free media to operate in the country as a concession for getting Western aid, said Shawn Crispin, the Bangkok-based Southeast Asia representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists, a nonpartisan advocacy group based in NY.

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