View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

  1. News
May 14, 2018updated 16 May 2018 11:10am

Editor and 13 staff quit Cambodia’s Phnom Penh Post after new owner calls for article about him to be removed

By Sam Forsdick

The sale of Cambodia’s longest-running independent newspaper to a Malaysian businessman has been denounced by former staff and trade unions for leaving the country without a free press.

Some 13 journalists announced their resignation from the Phnom Penh Post last week after its new owner requested an article be taken down which confirmed his links to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The former editor in chief Kay Kimsong was asked to remove the article which was critical of Sivakumar Ganapathy’s acquisition of the paper and was fired on 7 May after he refused to do so.

This was in spite of Ganapathy’s earlier claim to “uphold the paper’s 25 year old legacy and editorial principles/independence” in a press statement announcing the sale of Phnom Penh Post.

Ganapathy is also the director of Asia PR which lists “Hun Sen’s entry into the government seat” as one of several government related projects it was involved with.

The firing of Kimsong was followed by the resignation of thirteen other senior editorial staff, including managing editor Stuart White, web editor Jenni Reid, business editor Brendan O’Byrne, senior journalist Ananth Baliga and chief executive Marcus Holmes.

Writing in the Interpreter, former Phnom Penh reporter Erin Handley said: “What we saw yesterday was a scene of mourning, not only for those who are no longer with the Post, but also for the paper’s editorial independence and, more broadly, for press freedom in Cambodia.”

Content from our partners
Five ways to fail in media job interviews
How Germany's Ippen.Media mastered content planning across 86 newsrooms
Free journalism awards for journalists under 30: Deadline today

In an open letter published on the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights condemned the move as an attack on media freedom.

The letter, which was signed by 79 civil society groups, said: “This is just the latest in a series of attacks which have devastated Cambodia’s media landscape since mid-2017.

“The Phnom Penh Post was Cambodia’s last remaining independent English-Khmer language daily, and its change of ownership raises serious questions about the paper’s continued independence.”

Phnom Penh Post was founded in 1992 as a daily Cambodian English language newspaper and was the longest running independent newspaper in Cambodia.

Prior to the sale the Cambodian government had hit the paper with a $3.9m tax bill which was written off with Ganapathy’s acquisition of the publication.

The closure of The Cambodia Daily in 2017 followed a Government order to pay a $6.3m tax bill.

Cambodia fell ten places in the latest World Press Freedom Index for 2018, compiled by Reporters Without Borders, ranked 142 out of 180 countries.

These attacks on the freedom of the press come ahead of the Cambodian general election set for 29 July, in which Hun Sen will look to his extend his 33 years in office.

Picture: Reuters/Samrang Pring

Topics in this article : ,

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network