Selected Comments Samdech Techo Hun Sen, at the Fifth Meeting and Solidarity Dinner with Journalists/Media Related Professionals/Persons [Unofficial Translation]

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(1) A meeting between the Prime Minister and journalists and informants/spokespersons

Today’s meeting was not just a meeting with more than 5,000 journalists, but also with those who had to provide information, including spokespersons of state institutions as well as leaders of relevant institutions. It is not just a meeting between the Prime Minister and the journalists, but a meeting between the Prime Ministers and the journalists and the informants. I think that despite later (evolving) developments, such a forum should be maintained by future generations at some point, because it is in the interest of all to build our nation to move forward.

(2) Journalists are at the forefront of vaccination

I thank His Excellency Khieu Kanharith, Minister of Information, for his recent report on the progress made in the past. I am proud of all the efforts of the media, no matter how small or big. I should take this opportunity to value the contribution of our media for active involvement in the anti-Covid-19 campaign. Our journalists have also been reinstated as front-line officials who have been given priority over vaccinations. At that time, … we gave the journalists priority for vaccination. At this point, there are probably not many countries in the world that would consider journalists a priority group to be protected against Covid-19 by vaccines.

(3) Journalists help disseminate health measures regarding the Covid-19

I am aware that journalists need to travel everywhere, whether there is or there is no pandemics. I remember that once at Pochentong (Phnom Penh International Airport), a Fresh News reporter asked if they (the reporters) could get the vaccine? I have included journalists as a priority group for vaccination. The benefits that the Royal Government and the people of Cambodia get in return are (that the journalists have published) health measures, as well as the Royal Government’s call for the people’s combat against Covid-19. Measures and appeals went through and connected with the people to understand the health measures that the Royal Government has put in place. At this point, I would like to pay tribute to our journalists who have contributed to this great work.

(4) Holding the position of Prime Minister for 38 years and participates in ruling for 44 years

[…] (I have been) the Prime Minister who holds office that is marking tiday the 38th anniversary. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the monks, as well as the leaders and the people who wished me of the 38th anniversary of my day as Prime Minister. To count in tine when I was the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister, through to the time when I become the Prime Minister – it has been a span of 44 years, almost half a century, that I am participating in governing and leading power in this poor country […] How do I listen to the voice from below? whether small or large, to deliver information from the bottom to the top and retrieving information from top to bottom is essential.

(5) Pay attention to providing and receiving information, no matter how small or large

Even one little thing, you can all notice the attitude of this Prime Minister. At the beginning of Covid-19, we took measures to disseminate information to people on how to protect themselves. At that time, the locals used mobile motorbikes to advertise […]in TikTok a young fellow posted a clip of him riding his motorbike after the driving speaker van just to get a complete message […]I got that and instructed the authority to change their way of disseminating information – from announcing the measure on a mobile van to on van in a station with repeated message for at least two hours at a time […]even on small issue like this, (as Prime Minister, I have taken it seriously by) striving to (make sure that) people have (access to) information.

(6) Transfer information from online sources to relevant institutions and provinces to search for and solve problems

I thank all the media for their contributions to the combat against inaction. (Those medias) have these days made life easier for me. I would like to sincerely thank those helpers – including radio and television are one thing, but the online network on the other who helps a lot. I always forward (story) from the online press to concerned province (of issues reported in the broadcast/publication/posting for them) to check. Probably some ministers, some provincial governors had received those forwarding, such as through the telegram system […]some information gives us the opportunity to immediately search for and solve existing problems at the grassroots level. People need justice or solutions and we may have not addressed for them or that are our gaps.

At Phnom Damrey Romiel in Takeo province, there is this issue regarding an invasion of mountainous land. It is not the media who broke out the news but the people who provide the information. Finally, we found out that there was such action involving both the military and the administration on the issue of deforestation in the Damrei Romiel mountain area of Takeo province. As of this time, a settlement operation at the site is underway. I would express my appreciation for this story, firstly (about the efforts to provide information) on the issue of Covid-19 and secondly, the information published and researched by the media, including hot news related to the problem of opening casinos, for which I issued regulations […]for (us to know and) disseminate and take action […]

(6) Sharing the 40th and 41st ASEAN Summits successes with all journalists

I am taking this opportunity to express my appreciation for the efforts of the Ministry of Information, especially Minister Khieu Kanharith, who did a good job during Cambodia’s chairmanship of ASEAN last year. For the past year, no journalists have complained about having no food and/or about the lack of internet access. We did a lot of work. Many journalists have come to cover the events in Cambodia. We have done a good job with the excellent results of the 2022 rotating presidency. The Ministry of Information, together with journalists, both public and private, participated in promoting this good work. I am sharing these successes with all the journalists present here […] even in difficult year, we did a good job. This is not a normal happening […]

(7) Both the press and the media are more responsible

The year 2022 has passed, and in the past three years – 2020, 2021, 2022 (period), we had worked together and overcame difficulties, particularly, the fight to protect the lives of the people in the presence of Covid-19, an invisible enemy. All of this is the fruit of all our efforts. Cambodians should be honored as their lives protected. I am pleased with the institutions that provide information. Now, although there are still some weaknesses in some institutions and some provinces, compared to the past, the journalism profession and the informants – whereas today, various ministries and institutions have gathered here their spokespersons, have had higher responsibility. Recipients get more information than ever before [[…]]

(8) Leaders of national institutions/sub-national authorities shall not take journalists as enemies

I should say to the leaders of national institutions as well as sub-national authorities not to take journalists as their enemies. It would be a serious mistake of leadership if you all considered journalists to be enemies. I do not object to (reserved consideration regarding) some media that are useless. I would not even talk to. But journalists who have good intentions to provide information about the truth to the public should be considered and communicated in order to link the information we provide to the public. For some media outlets, which only know how to insult/scold, who requested for interview, there is no need to meet. I do not blame you, but the press in our country that works professionally right, you should be in touch with because it will make the fastest line (of information sharing) [[…]]

(9) Connection with digital online information system is useful

My mobile phone has been connected a number of online media […] I am not sure if the Minister, Secretary of State, Undersecretary of State, Provincial or District Governor, our civil servants are all having connected to the media or information outlets online. This is the digital age, the age of not having to read a hardcopy newspaper, because it is in the online system that we can connect with it. On the TV side, we can also download into our phone that can watch both live and other broadcasts. There are many of them on Facebook platform. What is useful we should strive [[…]]

(10) Lots of work to be done in the coming months, including dealing with floods in the dry season

We have a lot of work to do in 2023. With only a few months to come, the SEA Games will arrive. Further, we also proceed to the 7th legislative election on July 23, 2023 […] the floods of the dry season are also harassing some provinces, including the outskirts of Phnom Penh. This is rare. Through the press and the provincial authorities reports to the Prime Minister (has given us the scale of the problem). It may look a small issue, but it is a big problem for the people. For instance, the Pursat province, people suffered double jeopardy. I provided them with rice seeds after they were hit by the first (rainy season) flooding. While from those seeds rice is ripening, the (dry season) flooding is coming again. They are facing damages again. How do we deal with them? The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is addressing this issue. I am also following this work […]today I am meeting you here, but tomorrow I will make an official visit to strengthen relations with the Republic of Maldives [[…]]

(11) Law on the right to receive information to issue in the 7th legislative term, digital broadcasting in early 2023 and analog broadcasting over in 2025

(Here are some) recommendations for ministries, institutions, capitals, provinces, as well as journalists to implement:

First, the Ministry of Information must push for a draft law on the right to information (to) be ready in the seventh legislative term and prepare to launch digital TV in Cambodia in early 2023, and to shut down analog television broadcasts in 2025 as planned […]

With regard to the law (of the right to have access to information), it is clear that there are only a few months left until the election. Therefore, we would expect that the right to information law is issued in the seventh legislative term, which after the election is likely to be between 2024 or 2025. This delay is not an isolated case. If we just use the state’s right to decide, it will be easy. The Minister would just send the draft law to the Cabinet for approval, and after the approval, send to the National Assembly. However, we have been careful to gather opinions from all directions so that this law can benefit everyone. But we have observed that some NGOs are overly demanding. Excessive demands are what the Minister needs to mediate [[…]]

Dealing with digital issues, we have coordinated for the arrangement and there are 3 TVs, including Bayon TV, Hang Meas and BCS as a group, together with the Ministry of Information that have been working on building a digital nursery. CNC, CTN, MYTV also joined together. We need to create digital broadcasts instead of analog systems and shut down analog systems by 2025 […]we do not have to procrastinate on the use of digital systems in place of analog systems […], which interferes the 700 MHz frequency bandwidth, but also the flight system [[…]]

(12) Authorities and the media as partners in the investigation of crimes

Second, the state media must participate in maintaining peace, political stability, security, and social order through safe villages and communes by disseminating and urging the authorities and competent institutions to listen to and take action against all kinds of crimes, drugs, gambling, gangsters, robbers, armed robbery, traffic accidents, etc. that occur in their localities to build a Cambodian society to be safe, orderly and maintain the honor and dignity of Cambodia on the international stage as the host of the historic 2023 SEA Games [[…]]

This is one of the advantages of contributing to the implementation of the roadmap for maintaining security and social order, namely the safe village/commune policy […] we cannot live with robberies, drug gangs. Therefore, journalists should be involved with the authorities, and the authorities should also take journalists as their partners in investigating crimes, for example: gambling or drug problems. Let’s do this job well together [[…]]

(13) To meet sportsmen-women on April 4, 2023

Thirdly, on January 25, 2023, all media should join the campaign to promote the 100-day countdown of the 32nd SEA Games 2023 in Cambodia for the people both inside and outside the country. Recognize and inspire athletes to train hard to get more medals in the upcoming competitions, encourage our youth and people to support and love sports under the slogan “sports in peace, one person plays one sport/game, Cambodia reduces traffic accidents, and Cambodia is clean” […]

Is there a need for me to meet the sportsmen/women or not? Normally, there is a meeting between the Prime Minister and the sportsmen/women on April 4 every year, but we did not hold such meeting the past years for Covid-19 […] let me announce that I will jot in my schedule to have the meeting with sportsmen/women in the evening of April 4, 2023 at a suitable place […] I would like to ask all of you to inspire and encourage our people to exercise, practice sports for health and raising awareness regarding the lives of our people […]

(14) Delivering the RGC’s political program to the people, bringing the people’s concerns back to RGC

Point 4 – the media must establish a partnership with the Royal Government and act as a bridge between the state institution to the people and from the people to the state institution, both the political program of the Royal Government and the practical implementation required more active involvement of journalists in maintaining peace and national development […]

In my 44 years of experience in power, I have used media outlets to connect with people, and reach out to the outside world. Hun Sen in the past, If you know, does a lot of press conferences. Sometimes I just waved to the journalists to come and I talked to them […] how can we do this so that we can push the political program of the Royal Government to the people and bring back the concerns of the people. It is not that everything we put out satisfied the people. We must figure it out as sometimes what we put out does not reflect the reality of the situation […]

(15) Provide a lawyer to defend journalists who dare to reveal the truth with sufficient evidence

Fifth, continue to participate in the campaign to fight inactivity, irregularities, corruption and injustice in society and to build Cambodia into a clean, transparent society and ask the media to join the Royal Government in pushing for state reform for transparency, which requires journalists to fulfill their professional roles, be competent and study the problem in depth, dare to reveal the truth, do not distort the truth, while continuing to destroy opportunists who seek personal gain under the label of the press that undermines the value and prestige of journalists in general and the press institution in particular [[…]]

I will provide a defense lawyer for journalists who dare to reveal facts. I have said it once and here that I accept (to offer my lawyers’) legal counsel and defense where there are appropriate factual and legal facts […]but I do not accept to offer such help for cases that the journalist was the one who caused destruction and asked me to send (a lawyer) to participate […]such helps are for any journalist dare to reveal the truth with sufficient evidence [[…]]

I reiterate that I will not send a lawyer to defend the slanderous media […]I have said that “as journalists, one should do not abuse others, and do not distort the truth.” Now I should add, “as journalists, one should spread the truth, not fabricate mistakes and pass it to someone else.” We have two slogans […]sometimes, with a Facebook account and a smart phone, someone spread insults, and at some point make him-herself a judge [[…]]

(16) Explaining the truth immediately and clearly, neutralizing false information

Sixth, continue to participate in the fight against false and fake news/information in the national and international framework. As we now have media representatives in the ASEAN national framework, it requires our institutions to fight against false and fake information more actively because false and inaccurate news/information is a psychological instigator that causes social unrest, political instability, social insecurity and hostility with foreigners.

This is the point is not just a matter of Cambodia (but) in the world. In (reading) speeches at the United Nations, I sat and listened for a while before I delivered mine, no one forgot to mention about false and fake news. On YouTube, in Khmer, there are (false and fake) news that either Mr. Hun Sen is dead or Mr. Hun Sen’s wife is waiting for the day when Mr. Hun Sen remove oxygen. Where does this information come from? (they are coming from the opposition and the) opposition is the dirtiest group […]

False information (characterized a) bad psychology […]we have to fight against it. With what do we use to fight it? It is the facts and we have to explain the facts immediately. It must be fast, rapid and clear. This false information cannot be allowed to last long. There must be counter interpretation immediately. Relevant institutions must be ready to provide the truth to dissolve false information. Only factual information can be used to eliminate false and/or fake news/information. Institutional officials must be quick to look at information and able to distinguish which is true and which is not [[…]]

(17) Let all Information/Media Institutions Build Capacity […] for Quality Improvement

Seventh, the Association of Journalists must continue to cooperate with relevant ministries and institutions to provide vocational training to their staff and agencies to keep up with the development of digital media technology, which works quickly and up-to-date, and create opportunities to deal with future unpredictable challenges.

(I am calling on) all information/media institutions to work on capacity building. As of present, we have quantity (of press) […]and I encourage you all to step into quality improvement. With only quantity and without quality, we would just be called a country with a lot of media […]Our country has a population of 17 million, but there are ways too many media institutions. It would be impossible for the media to perform their jobs only with quantity and without quality. There are also many journalists’ associations […]I am calling on information/media institutions to focus on capacity building for journalists. The Ministry (of Information) also has to do this work with associations [[…]]

(18) Participating in promotion of Covid 19 Vaccination

The eighth point of the recommendation is to participate in disseminating educational information to the people on vaccination against Covid-19 and to implement the measures of the Royal Government and the Ministry of Health consistently. Covid-19 has not yet reached its end.

(19) Five-year duty-free import of foreign films, equipment in use not in the risk area to register, those interfere the aviation to be replaced with safety equipment

I confirm the request of HE Khieu Kanharith regarding the import of foreign films. We will continue duty waving on import of foreign film for another 5 years. In addition, regarding technical issues […] I would suggest a three-way cooperation among the Ministry of Information, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunication and the Civil Aviation Authority […]if the processing device is in use, and if it is not in the risk area, please allow them to register […] however, in the event of an accident in the flight zone, where it may interfere with the flight, it should be replaced with safety ensured equipment [[…]]

(20) 621 small-type online media patent tax will be in the state burden, the license fee for the establishment of a new media unit reduced by 50%

Other than that, […] regarding fiscal and non-fiscal proposals. My solution is as a New Year’s gift […] regarding patents […]now the total number of online media is 621, and about 97% of which are small-scale, […] I am declaring this patent “a burden on the state for five years.” You all have to meet with the units responsible. Do not take the pretext that (your tax is in the burden of the state and) created illegal issue. You must go in (and ask for the permission accordingly). This patent is therefore in the burden of the state for 5 more years [[…]]

Now the non-fiscal part. In that regard, for the payment of the license fee for the establishment of a new media unit at the Ministry of Information, I did not consult with HE Kanharith, and my decision today would reduce the revenue of the Ministry of Information, but the Ministry of Information, which is the chief of the media should favor it. I would like to offer a 50% discount. Kanharith did not ask for that because it is the income (of the Ministry) […]

Q&A

Club of Cambodian Journalists[…] Currently, there are journalists who have undergone training and who have not undergone training. The Club of Cambodian Journalists thought about how to train them […] but this is related to budget issue. In some countries, there is a form of training in the form of contribution (from) companies and partly with the help of the national budget. This is the first request […]

There is now a request. So far, relating to the use of certain words. When a person provided information, sometimes he obliged journalists to state his name and a long protocol title/s. That has put pressure on journalists […]

Another point, […] sometimes spokespersons of state institutions give information using too much administrative protocol of the RGC to the media, […] I suggest ministries and institutions help reduce the protocol so that it does not take too much time […]

One last point about the spokesperson, […] s/he was not active in answering the journalists questions, and last but not least, he changed his phone very often […]making it difficult for the journalists to contact him/her [[…]]

(21) Need time to review the fund for journalists’ capacity building

Samdech Techo: … it is a bit loud in here that it is difficult for us to listen to each other. I do not know if those who listen to me can hear me or not? Now let’s talk about funding issue. I wonder, first of all, why there are so many media associations? If there are a lot of media, I do not say, but there are a lot of media associations. In terms of funding for journalistic capacity building, I need time to look at what we can do. This matter cannot be handed over to any particular association […]

I have to think it over within the framework of the Ministry of Information, if necessary, to fund the capacity building of journalists. The Ministry of Information may open short training courses for capacity building. I also call on each institution to strengthen their information person capacity themselves […]since we have too many associations, if there is any provision to strengthen the capacity of journalists, there must be only one channel and the Ministry of Information should be in charge of this issue […]

The name issue […], the full title is too long. If s/he is putting pressure on you journalists, you just do not give him a chance of publicity. In the previous generation, I had even instructed a deletion. If you are a general, you have to remove the title of Okhna. Otherwise, your name and title is too long. Now the police and soldiers do not have their Okhna titles along with their names. Previously, the generals, the tycoon, the doctor, would oblige full reference to their titles otherwise they would protest. You journalists do not publish about that person […] there is no shortage of people in the country […]

Now let’s talk about the spokesperson. I admit that some spokespersons have never met the minister. A previous government spokesman had never met with the Prime Minister […] here, it is advisory that the Ministers work closely with the spokespersons, because the information released must be approved by the Ministers prior to releasing it. It requires clear cooperation […] I would make a suggestion that in some cases it takes time. As for the journalists, they insisted that (the spokespersons) had to give information immediately while they could not grasp anything yet. That should not be the case. We need to weigh the time factor. In some cases, the news is already out of date […]

ChinaCambodia Friendship Radio: […] (1) According to Cambodian media reports, Samdech will conduct a visit to China. May I ask why Samdech chose such a good time to visit China. What do you expect from your visit to China […], and (2) As 2023 is the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relation and the year of friendship between China and Cambodia, I would like to ask what hopes do you have for the cooperation between China and Cambodia, and what would be your evaluation about the Belt and Road Initiative?

(22) The Visit to PRC on February 10, 2023 – A Commemoration of Difficult Times

Originally, the visit (to the People’s Republic of China was planned) for January 2, but due to the re-arrangement, it has been rescheduled to February 10 […]It was the anniversary of the visit (that took place at the time that) everyone else feared of China in 2020. While others were removing people, removing students from China for fear of the Covid-19, I, instead, went to China. Therefore (February 10, 2023) is the third anniversary of the day I visited China, from where I delivered a message of solidarity to the Chinese people in a difficult period […] and to calm the Cambodian students to go on living with the Chinese people […] while relieving their parents’ concerns […]I think my upcoming visit is a preparation to commemorate that difficult time […]

(23) Cambodia Will Ask for China’s Help in Building High-Speed Rail

Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement enters into force […] and promotes trade between the two countries […] hopefully my upcoming visit will have (opportunities to discuss) more new projects that we rely on Chinese friends […] including a high-speed rail project. We already have a railway, but our rail is not up to demand. We plan to ask the Chinese friends to help build Cambodia’s railways and other cooperation projects […] the day I left China is also the day that HM the King will take a flight to China […] it can be considered as the busy exchange of high-level delegations after the visit of Premier Li Keqiang to Cambodia last year and the participation in the ASEAN Summit […] this reassures the relationship […] as a comprehensive strategic partner within the framework of the Cambodia-China common destiny, the framework of belt and road cooperation and our steel friendship relation […]./.