Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - RFA confirms office closure

RFA confirms office closure

A woman reads Cambodian news on Radio Free Asia’s website on her smartphone. The US-funded broadcaster is set to cease operations within the Kingdom.
A woman reads Cambodian news on Radio Free Asia’s website on her smartphone. The US-funded broadcaster is set to cease operations within the Kingdom. Hong Menea

RFA confirms office closure

Radio Free Asia yesterday confirmed that all its staffers in Cambodia would see their contracts expire at the end of the month and its operations would only continue outside the country, despite a few reporters saying that they would continue to work for the broadcaster after the shutting down of its Phnom Penh bureau.

The radio broadcaster on Tuesday announced that it will cease its operations in the Kingdom following attempts to resolve a tax compliance issue and a licensing dispute with the Ministry of Information. The US-funded RFA said it would continue to operate out of Washington, DC.

The Kingdom is currently in the throes of a wide-ranging clampdown on independent media, with the often critical Cambodia Daily newspaper publishing its final edition on September 4 after a month-long dispute with the government over a purported $6.3 million tax bill.

The closure followed the shuttering of more than 30 radio frequencies across the country, disproportionately affecting RFA, Voice of America and Voice of Democracy broadcasts.

Rohit Mahajan, spokesman for RFA in the US, reiterated yesterday that the bureau would be closed and in-country reporting stopped, meaning that contracts for staffers would expire at the end of the month and would not be renewed after that.

“We are not renewing any contracts. RFA is going to continue covering Cambodia using networks of trusted sources inside the country that we have built over the 20 years we had a presence there,” he said.

This meant the broadcaster would adopt a model followed in “other closed societies, like Laos”, where news was reported despite having no local reporters, he added.

However, an RFA staffer, who requested anonymity, said despite the closure of the bureau, he intended to continue to report from home for the broadcaster.

“We have a commitment to continue to the work for what we consider as a benefit for listeners, and we continue to work professionally,” he said.

A similar sentiment was conveyed by another RFA reporter.

While the Ministry of Finance had suggested action against both RFA and VOA for tax and licensing issues, Information Ministry spokesman Ouk Kimseng said that RFA Bureau Chief Chi Vita had approached the ministry in 2016 to formalise the broadcaster’s operations, but did not follow up.

“He did not implement [the procedures] and now they accuse the ministry,” he said. “When they do not respect the law, there is no tolerance.”

VOA said it would continue its coverage of the country, mostly through short- and medium-wave transmissions and their website.

“We continue to work on the question of tax liabilities and registration in Cambodia,” said VOA Public Relations Officer Michelle Harris.

MOST VIEWED

  • Research key to Kanitha’s rep for expertise

    Sok Kanitha is used to weighing in on controversial issues using a confident approach that signals expertise and authority, and a recent video she made was no exception. Her “Episode 342: The History of NATO” video went live on January 16, 2023 and immediately shot to 30,000 likes and 3,500

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Artificial insemination takes herd from 7 to 700

    Some farms breed local cows or even import bulls from a broad for the purpose of breeding heavier livestock for meat production. One Tbong Khnum farmer has found a more efficient way. Hout Leang employs artificial insemination to fertilise local cows. Thanks to imported “straws”

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,

  • Capital-Poipet express rail project making headway

    The preliminary results of a feasibility study to upgrade the Phnom Penh-Poipet railway into Cambodia’s first express railway indicate that the project would cost more than $4 billion and would take around four years to complete. The study was carried out by China Road and

  • Thai boxers to join SEA Games’ Kun Khmer event

    The Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) – together with the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) and Khmer Boxing Federation – have achieved a “great success” by including Kun Khmer in the upcoming biennial multi-sports event on its home soil for the first time, said a senior