Selected Comments Samdech Techo Hun Sen at the Second Annual Gathering of Journalists [Unofficial Traslation]


Once again, at this second annual gathering between the Royal Government and the local journalists, please allow me to express my warmest welcome to every media institutions for taking their times to join in this joyous occasion. I am also grateful to the presence of officials from various institutions, and those of sub-national level institutions, who responded positively to the invitation. We have just wrapped up the extraordinary congress of the nationwide representatives of the Cambodian People’s Party, and I just spent about two and a half hours briefing the party officials. I had about a half hour time for physical exercise before coming to our gathering. As you can see, my health is good and I am still fit for another ten years as Prime Minister […]

Three Kinds of Journalists

We seem to have three kinds of media in our country […] Firstly, those that are performing like mafia. I have reports in my hands. I just wish they adjusted their behaviours. They have blackmailed people with story they made. They would run the story if they did not get a pay-off. This kind of journalists are working on mainly issues relating to forest crimes. I send them a message to stop it immediately. I have proof of your communication. They have disrespected their professional ethics for about five years already and blackmailed people for reasonably huge pay-off. We must pay attention and work to put an end to this practice […]

Secondly, those journalists who never abided by the law, who did not make a legal registration, and who evaded taxes. When their way of practice blew up, they acted as victim of politics to win praise from their countries of origination. Some media operated in our country and violated our laws, did not pay taxes to our country. When we discovered it, they made themselves political victims of the Cambodian authority. I think President Donald Trump was correct to have created awards for news media of fakes and lies […]

Thirdly, those media with only names but without actions. I have noted that Minister Khieu Kanharith already took a stern measure on them. Some had acted as a director of a media. When s/he committed offense, s/he sought out release with their media passes. We must not allow this to happen or it will destroy journalists’ personal honour and integrity […]

Be Centrist and Not a Judge

… My answer is not to be a leftist or a rightist, but a centrist. Centrism has been a movement recognized by everyone, after breaking up of violence and extremism in region and the world. For media persons and/or institutions, they should not be either extremely left or right, but try to speak the truth. I continue to advise media people not to act as a judge in any given story. I reminded once in our gathering last year. According to some reports that I saw on TV, I am of the opinion that some reporters and/or commentators had taken a confused role between being a journalist and a judge. I would not encourage you doing that.

You should learn more about media profession. What you should do is to speak the truth and leave legal decisions for the court […] I bring this matter up to avoid the fact that irresponsible and unprofessional comments by a commentator could affect integrity of given media institutions. I wish to speak on this so that the same old thing will not happen again. I could even name names but I think they know themselves what they have done. I also had informed owners of those TV stations.

Brave Journalists Keep Their Integrity

I am urging that state institutions at national and sub-national levels must dare to speak the truth and thank media for stories that we would otherwise not know. We have learnt some issues from the press. Whatever appears in the press, we must conduct research to find out immediately. If it is not a factual matter, we may request for correction from them. In this case, we can also do it online, via social media such as Facebook, and institutions may do so on their websites. Some institutions have their own media outlets such as radio or TV even […]

What is more important though is that journalists must be brave and keep their integrity. They should be honest even in their ways of formulating questions. Some had done it in a dishonest way. For example, some had made their questions very long and part of it is very much the answer (leading question). Some would not pay attention and journalist would then make up the story […] I have been tired for three days but I still have something to say to you.

State-Media Relations

I wanted to say a few things relating to the media as an institution and person […] I have a few points to mention here. Firstly, relations between the media and leaders. One may see that in many countries, media people and their leaders are in regular contacts […] based on personal experience that I have gained in the past 39 years, I had spent lot of times with media people, or otherwise I would not have been this well known. Some journalists such as Jacques Bekaert, who liked to write about me, had made me famous since 1970s and later in 1980s. You may find articles on me in the Bangkok Post and Le Monde […] They have made Hun Sen known to the world, not one or two years, but dozens of years so far.

Secondly, there is this relation between media and advisors and assistants […] I am talking about my experience of state management in the past 39 years. Beside direct contacts with the press, like through interviews, press conference, etc., my advisors and/or assistants are sharing information to the media. After meetings and/or official negotiations, we always have a team that provide information to the media […] I think this practice is useful. Deputy Prime Minister, senior ministers and ministers should be maintain relations with the press through their assistants.

Thirdly, written statements, press releases, etc., are available by concerned institutions on their websites, and other social media forum. If our media persons make just a little effort, they would be able to find websites and other social media of concerned institutions […] some working in media but did not have required knowledge and knowhow in retrieving and sending information. We are not information lacking but sometimes overloaded […]

Fourthly, we are also sharing information through spokespersons assigned by concerned institutions. I have always advised state institutions, national and sub-national levels, to organize and prepare their spokespersons. According to our review and information we received from some media persons, spokespersons in some institutions have not fulfilled their tasks sufficiently and effectively, especially those at the provincial level. There is always a deputy governor and few staff to work on that. Let us just make it a real responsibility for someone. On this point, I wish make it an advice for every state institution […] we must take further actions to strengthen works of spokespersons in the RGC institution, provincial offices, and municipality to guarantee rights to have access to information […]

Fifthly, media professionals must seek for information. Based on the above four points, media professionals would lose their jobs […] media persons must seek for information and hunt for it by themselves, especially in this fast-track technology development, they would not be able to quickly get to the news when they may already go into social media such as Facebook. In the IT era, one leader must be a press institution. Let us not forget about that […] Let me now talk about my goals on, and suggestions to our media people:

State and Private Media Institutions to Reflect the Truth

What do I want our media institutions/persons to achieve in the time to come? Firstly, it is my wish that state and private media institutions fulfil roles to reflect the truth in society. In the time that the Cambodian People’s Party, especially my time as Prime Minister, I am after true information, which reflects the truth in society […] I have a suggestion that we keep our mirror intact. Those who are 60 years old and more would have remembered mirrors they placed at Wat Phnom, which gave distorted reflections to original objects […] It is on this note that I am asking state and private media to ensure transparency and be truly reflective […]

Secondly, I wanted a media that links information between state and people […] let me take tax policy on income for example. Our tax ceiling is set for anyone with income of more than 1.2 million Riels. People with limited information would make an uninformative decision like they would not want their salary even one Riel more […] this is the case where explanation and information sharing is not reaching far from state to people. We have introduced many new programs relating to workers, especially with female workers. While doing so, there was a demonstration in Pursat, in which demonstrators demanded a maternity leave of three months. In fact, (the Royal Government) has resolved that female workers are entitles to a three-month maternity leave with 120% pay of their salary.

That people rose up with demonstration was because they did not have information which should go from state to them. I wanted our media – as a person and institution, to take complementary roles on one another by sharing to people state policies to people, and reflect back to the state people’s concerns.

Thirdly, I wish to see media in constructive criticism and monitoring implementation of state institutions on every policies and programs put forth. This point is indispensable in a democratic society. Constructive criticism and insulting are two different approaches. In Cambodia, no matter how much you worked for the country, for certain group of people, they would not refrain from making insults […] numerous programs and/or policies issued by various Royal Government institutions. You may ask whether those policies would be feasible and implementable, and why? You may provide a concept on which leaders would sleep on them and perhaps make them parts of their actions and policy improvement. Insulting is not a process of democracy. We are for freedom of expression but against insulting and inciting turmoil […]

Fourthly, I wanted to see contributions of strategic analysis from media on national and regional issues. I wish to see our media professionals capable of making analysis not only on small local issues, but regional and world affairs […] there have been confusing development in the Korean peninsula, in which North and South Koreas seemed to be in good term with each other. Some sounded out their concerns about the possibility of the two Koreas are together. We may try to predict how long would this agreeable term between the two Koreas last, while there are countries that are not happy with it? The reason is perhaps if the two Koreas are in good terms, there may not be a need for foreign military bases in the region anymore […]

Fifthly, we do not wish to see media that causes conflict. We respect freedom of expression, but they have to be responsible for what comes out of their mouths.

Sixthly, make efforts to eliminate media to blackmail for money. Let me clarify that a media institution and the personnel go together […] I have not yet taken actions but I sent people to tell them. Rectifying or not would be totally their choices […]

Seventhly, make further efforts to raise high human resource capability and training in face of modernization of media technology […] to become a professional journalists with capability to analyse and have attention of your readers, audiences, you have to learn more to improve your skills […] there was also this problem of sharing outdated information. I wish to take this opportune moment to give my approval to the progresses made by the national TVK in delivering updated news […]

Holding Charges on Foreign Movies Visa for Five Years

There is this paragraph in the speech of the Information Minister that he did not read. It goes “we are seeking Samdech Techo approval to prolong charges on visa of imported foreign movies broadcast on TV … which entered into force since 1 January 2018, for another five years …” Based on power vested in the Prime Minister, I approved the request. Cambodia would not shut down because of this visa cost cancellation. However, they have to strictly follow our instruction to put on Khmer movies first […]

I have made up my mind to bring up a matter to you today. I am sending a message to female celebrities making appearances on TV, radio, and even print media, and claiming to have been a subject of love requested by important persons and Oknha, that they should spell those names out. If you do not spell it out, your statement would spoil everyone […] it is not a rebuke […] I think that you are not angry with me. I just want you to be a good person. I hope that from today on, whether you have or have not been loved by someone, you will just go silent […]./.