Posted on 13 September 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 577
“Representatives of the Club of Cambodian Journalists asked all politicians to communicate better with the media if they think that the media are important.
“Mr. Pen Samithi, the president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, said during a Roundtable Discussion to Review the Media Coverage During the Elections in the morning of 11 September 2008, that during every election, the media were considered to be most important for conveying messages to the citizens in rural areas as well as in the cities, to understand the election processes, and to know the parties that participate in the electoral competitions. Therefore, the media become political hostages during each election period, and after the elections are over, there has been always criticism by some parties against the media, saying to have shown bias, and to not have published enough about their specific party.
“Mr. Pen Samithi added that some parties did not have spokespersons, and if journalists wanted their phone numbers, they could not get it. How can they report? If the politicians want good publicity, there should be better communication from now on, not just one month before the elections. If communication start so late, it is hopeless.
“Mr. Pen Samithi said that he has never seen that any political parity contacted the media for reporting, and if the journalists wanted to contact them it was difficult. He went on to say that almost all parties have no media policy; so how can the media report? He said that if political parties think that the media are important, they have to communicate properly with the media, and not just blame the media after the elections, because earlier on, when the media approached the parties during the time of the elections, almost all such contacts were limited or were set under conditions to do this or to do that - but the media do not set any conditions in turn.
“Mr. Keo Sothea, the editor-in-chief of Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, said that during the discussion in the morning, his newspaper had raises some negative points which have to be criticized, in order that they are corrected and there will be improvement. Some newspapers always write only negatively related to the government, but as for some needs or weak point, they do not seems to dare to write them, and to report about improvements by the government is an issue which is difficult to trust, because people have to think what a real improvement is, and what a lack thereof is.
“Mr. Kol Panha, the executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections – COMFREL – said that the media must be examined, because media are most important for sending information to the citizens who are the voters, and the media have a very significant role in the process of democracy. If someone is not listening or watching the media about the election process, or does not know any political parties, they will not be able to freely and broadly voice their opinion. However, if a publication spreads a lie, it really affects the voters strongly.
“Mr. Kol Panha continued that the media are important, therefore journalists have to be neutral, they have to have morality, and journalistic skills, so that voters receive broadly based information. He added that when the elections approached, most media showed a certain reluctance towards the government, as taking up certain things might lead to conflicts, and rather raised mainly different, positive points for comments, but seldom criticizing the government. Also, he expressed his regret that during the elections in 2008, there was serious incidents related to the media: the murder of Mr. Khim Sambo, a journalist of Moneaksekar Khmer, and the arrest and detention of Mr. Dam Sith, the editor-in-chief of Moneaksekar Khmer. He said that whether one agrees or not, such cases somewhat frighten other journalists and they think a lot before they write.
“Mr. Kol Panha asked to include also the Equity Program [produced by the UNDP] into programs related to the National Election Committee [NEC]. Laws should be created to punish any media that have committed wrongdoings, but there should not be prison term punishments.
“Mr. Chhay Sophal, a member of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, said that this discussion will continue further, regarding the above suggestions.”
Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3407, 12.9.2008
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Friday, 12 September 2008