Selected Comments Samdech Techo Hun Sen at the Gathering of Local Journalists

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[Unofficial Translation]

CNV: 

Meeting Journalists on Every 14 January

My wife and I are so happy to be able to join for the first time with press people. I wish to affirm that this is not a press conference and/or a gathering to greet the 32ndanniversary of my premiership 14 April 1985 to 14 January 2017. We shall be organizing such gathering every year. Next year we may have a bigger one and it shall fall on 14 January every year. On behalf of the Information Minister, HE Khieu Kanharith, I wish to address disappointment expressed by some of the press people who do not have a chance to participate in this event today. I hope there is an understanding. For those who could not make it this time that we have gathered over one thousand of them, we hope to host more for the next gathering […]

Cambodia in Dictatorship or Liberal Democracy

I thank the Minister of Information for organizing such important event. This has led me to ask a question of Cambodia is under a dictatorship or a liberal democracy, since we have so many journalists. Is Cambodia in the state of dictatorship, shutting up people who scolded us, or it is under liberal democracy with freedom of expression? It is true that I do not wish to make any uneasy-feeling remarks though some have expressed their displeasures for not being invited. For next year, I am calling on those press people of the opposition to join in the event of people belonging to similar profession, though you may have different point of views on things. Some support the Royal Government and some may support the opposition parties, but we all are under the same roof. This should clarify that though you may have different opinions, people of same professions and Khmer nationality should meet.

I am not talking about foreign press … I am sure those press people who work for the opposition or anyone here would not all support Hun Sen. However, under the roof of democracy, one Constitution, HM the King, the Royal Government, we ought to speak with each other, though our opinion may not be the same. I think meeting once a year would not be difficult to do since the one who will be in difficulty will be me. I have my schedule to meet once a year with sportsmen, the Christians, Muslims, and now the press people. I shall also have an annual meeting with those in the ethnic Chinese associations.

A Leader Who Meets More Press Than Any Others

Since we have met now, let me say something. I think that it is not a new thing for us. If it were to be a press conference, I may say to you that in this world, perhaps I was the only leader who met the most with the press. No one ever met more than I do with the press. It is because no one was in power longer than I do. I started as Foreign Minister since 1979 and up to now, it is over 38 years already. You may want to count how many press conferences I did and many of them were not simple ones. Some of them were at the United Nations or anywhere that many famous journalists spent ten or 20 hours to meet Hun Sen. Famous ones like Jean Claude Pomonti, Nayan Chanda, Jacques Bekaert, and Elizabeth Becker met me many hours. RaoulMarc Jennar also was one of them when he was journalist and he is now advisor of the Royal Government of Cambodia […] I had confronted so many things that were not trivial and they all concerned strategy. Some time I had to give press conferences at three o’clock in the morning, for instance, ones about IMC (Informal Meeting on Cambodia), JIM (Jakarta Informal Meeting), JIM-I, JIM-II […]

Press Office to Set Up Websites and Facebook

Let me first start with institutions. Those brilliant ones would set up a good press network. I have seen that we have done something to get them organized but they do not seem to work or work in limited level. Some work rather fast and many would be so slow, and I mean to talk about the spokesperson organization. Since we have people coming from the province as well, I would urge the network of the Ministry of Information, provincial press office so to speak, like head of the press office, would be a spokesperson with a supervision of a deputy governor. This would help a lot and we would not have to request for more staff since they all are professional already. If you could do that successfully, you would not have had to deal with the press on your own. The Minister of Information would have to meet and work with the provincial governors in the process of appointing heads of provincial press offices as spokespersons. They must also work on managing informative websites and Facebook pages […]

Trustworthy Press Speaks the Truth, in Timely Manner

Let me be frank and I must or I am not a Prime Minister. It is because I have always spoken the truth that I could stay on for 32 years. It would be uneasy to bring me down. There would be no chance for color revolution. It seems to be quiet down. How to make press trustworthy would be for them to speak the truth and in a timely manner. If any press told untruth once, and again, no one would go back to it. Secondly, information they offer should be timely manner as there are many sources available out there. I am advising this because I wanted all of you in this profession to be capable and gaining readers’ trust. If Hun Sen is talking about an ox and you wrote about buffalos, and I now have my way of getting my messages across, like my Facebook, and Fresh News is now live, who would trust your writing?

The point here then is you must tell the truth and make it in a timely-manner. There is a strong competition these days and speed is the most important thing. Politicians, business people, they really need first-hand information … I have brought this issue up so that you would have to make sure how to go about working on your profession to tell the truth and be timely-manner.

A Journalist – Not a Lawyer or Judge

Secondly, I would ask journalists, on newspapers, radio, or TV, especially those on TVs, not to appoint themselves as lawyers, and judges. Some might have over-performed their duties and encroached upon those of the courts. We are to only provide true information and refrain from drawing a conclusion or being a judge. I think what I said had had the attention of those of you who happened to perform your role and duty in a trend I mentioned. I do not need to have your names out. Sometime they even went this far to say so and so political parties should do so and so things. I think it is not your role and duty to do so. All you had to do was to just tell the truth and leave conclusion to the audience. You are commenting, but not judging as if you are lawyers or prosecutors, who have the legal duty to charge. As the press, I think you should pursue the role of reflecting the truth of what is happening in the society.

You should act in a way to help build up the society or what could a leader do to make decision if white thing has been told to be black and vice versa. You may accept people’s opinion but you may not make a closure conclusion, opening for no protest. Once you make it your conclusion on a story that that thing is wrong or right, you have closed the case […] Sometimes, some words, even the Prime Minister had not dared to say it yet, commentator with a microphone had it all the way. This has led to a comment by the late editor in chief, Pen Samithi, of Rasmey Kampuchea, to refrain from misconceiving one’s role. He said that press people should not be beyond limit.

Please Do Not Hide the Truth for Interest

There is one more thing. If you write correctly and rationally, you may not be afraid that so and so in written matter would sue you. What is to be concerned about would be a trade between hiding the truth for interest. I have heard about it and there may be true cases. Some rich and/or powerful people have committed wrongdoings and the press caught them up. To avoid their cases brought out in the press, they would offer them money. This kind of press would not bring progress to society, but drive it further into corruption. Take for instance a case of log business, some time they not only hide it for interest but also make up a story to give guilty person an advantage. In case of making a mistake, please do not be afraid to make a correction to prove that your take responsibility.

What Brought to Cambodia Are Now Back in the US

… Having come to this I just wish to thank President-elect Donald Trump of the United States for speaking the truth about dirty things of the US press. I do not wish to see dirty press in Cambodia … Our world seems to be in confusion these days. It has always our thought that the US is the best in terms of advanced technology. When the US President Barack Obama said that the Russians hacked the US elections, it seemed to have told us that the Russians are better. It is difficult to understand. What had happened in Cambodia has now returned to the US. The case of demonstration after the elections, demanding for recount, claiming of fraud, etc. had gone back to happen in the US. This has clearly showed that what the Americans had brought to Cambodia has now turned on them […]

Checkpoints Must Be Arrested

In the CPP plenum the other day, the Snuol district governor requested to Minister of Information about those press people setting up checkpoints to charge money. After he finished his intervention speech, I just told the meeting right away they have no privilege. An arrest is necessary for such action. Whether it is the press, member of the National Assembly or the Senate, these are crimes caught in the act. Whoever set up checkpoints will face arrests […]

Re-training Courses for Press Career

I have another advice for the press too. They should learn to ask question. Some asked and I never answered. We have so many to answer to and some had made their questions too long. They should learn to be succinct in asking question. Learning to ask question is important for journalists. This has brought me to my last point, which is about strengthening capacity of human resource in media. We must continue to provide training for people who wish to follow careers in media and communication. The Ministry of Information, aside from professional curriculum training at the Department of Media and Communication (Royal University of Phnom Penh), should provide retraining courses for our media people. The various TV companies may want to host those trainings in rotation […]

… Looking back at what I have said today, you may think that I have a good intention. We want to be a family and stay in one boat together. My presence today is for consolidating institutional role and encouraging our press people, while giving them more rights, and not to take away their rights … I hope that next year, we will have those who missed the chance this year joining us […]./.