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Closed Paper a Loss to Society: Media Expert

In a country where few opposition media remains, the closing of Moneaksekar Khmer this month was a major blow to the opposition, the government and society as a whole, a media expert said Monday.

“We know that the press plays a role in monitoring the work of the government, so, because the government is busy doing its job, it can’t completely watch every corner of its work,” said media expert Moeun Chhean Nariddh, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

Moneaksekar Khmer’s editor, Dam Sith, vowed to close the paper in an apology to Prime Minister Hun Sen last week, following a lawsuit filed by the government alleging defamation, disinformation and incitement in reports on corruption.

Around 200 newspapers have ceased running in Cambodia, a number the government should think about, Moeun Chhean Nariddh said.

“Press like Moneaksekar Khmer in part helps the government and gives information to the government,” he said, adding that Cambodia’s laws made it hard to punish government officials who hide information.

Meanwhile, “there is not a clear division of what information they can give to the public and what is confidential,” he said.

Cambodian journalists remain under-trained, and attacks on the press, such as the murder of Moneaksekar Khmer journalist Khim Sambo, further diminished its ability to watchdog government.

Cambodia’s press was ranked as “not free” by the international group Freedom House in 2009.