Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - RFA shuts down Cambodia operations amid media crackdown

RFA shuts down Cambodia operations amid media crackdown

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
United States-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia will close its Phnom Penh bureau and cease in-country operations. Photo supplied

RFA shuts down Cambodia operations amid media crackdown

United States-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia announced today it will close its Phnom Penh bureau and cease in-country operations citing a recent crackdown on independent media that has made it “impossible” to continue in the country.

The announcement comes as RFA and fellow US-funded broadcaster Voice of America have seen their broadcasts severely curtailed after the closure of more than 30 radio frequencies that aired their shows across the country. Last month, they were also pulled up by the Finance Ministry for failing to pay taxes and for not being licensed news organisations. The independent English-language newspaper the Cambodia Daily was also recently forced to shutter over a tax dispute.

Libby Liu, president of Radio Free Asia, said it had become increasingly apparent that Prime Minister Hun Sen had no intention of allowing a free press to exist ahead of next year’s crucial national election.

“Using a thin pretext of tax and administrative violations, authorities have closed independent radio stations carrying RFA, Voice of America, and Voice of Democracy,” she said in a statement.

She likened the broadcaster’s situation to that of the Daily, which was shut down last week for failing to pay a purported $6.3 million in back taxes after being given a one-month deadline.

“Authorities have been employing these same tactics against RFA, despite our full cooperation at every step to comply with all requests and our sincere efforts to register as a licensed media company,” she said.

“As history has shown, dictators may rise and force their will on nations, but the people will always seek truth in pursuit of freedom,” the statement concludes.

RFA spokesman Rohit Mahajan would only confirm that its local reporters will stop working in the country and coverage would be handled by its Washington, DC, bureau.

Information Ministry spokesman Ouk Kimseng today maintained the ministry had nothing to do with RFA’s closure, calling it a step taken by the broadcaster, and not imposed by officials.

“Ask them whether the Ministry of Information has done anything towards their colleagues . . . All their accusations are twisted,” he said.

Earlier in the day, CNRP lawmaker Son Chhay said he would send a letter to the ministry asking for an explanation as to why radio frequencies had been shut down, claiming the closures were not in line with the Press Law.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro