Cambodia's last independent paper was sold to the owner of a PR company that once worked for the prime minister

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on July 22, 2014 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Photo: Omar Havana/Getty Images
  • Cambodia’s last independent English-language daily has been sold to the owner of a public relations firm with links to current Prime Minister Hun Sen.
  • The PR firm lists “Cambodia and Hun Sen’s entry into the Government seat” among its previous work.
  • Sen has overseen a sweeping media crackdown ahead of elections in July, with radio stations closed, journalists followed by secret police, and another independent paper forced to close from a tax bill.
  • In October, Cambodia’s Supreme Court dissolved the nation’s opposition party and jailed its leader for treason.

Cambodia’s last independent English-language daily has been sold to the Malaysian owner of a public relations firm that still promotes its past work with Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The Phnom Penh Post had been owned by Australian mining magnate Bill Clough since 2008 and has now been sold to Malaysian investor Sivakumar Ganapathy.

The new owner said he is committed to “upholding the paper’s 26 year old legacy and editorial principles/independence without infringing any relevant laws and regulations of the Kingdom of Cambodia.”

But Sivakumar, a former journalist, is also the managing director of Asia PR which has links to current Sen.

According to the company’s website, the firm previously worked on a project to secure “Hun Sen’s entry into the Government seat.”

Over the past year Cambodia has seen a sweeping media crackdown and Sen, who is seeking reelection in July, has taken steps to silence political opposition and media dissent.

Journalists have reportedly been followed by secret police, 32 radio stations have been closed, an Australian filmmaker was jailed for “spying on the government, and in October Cambodia’s Supreme Court dissolved an opposition party and jailed its leader for treason.

Many have compared the situation at the Post to the downfall of the Cambodia Daily, the only other independant paper in the country that was forced to shutter after being slammed with a $US6.3 million tax bill last September.

Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch described the sale of the Post as a “staggering blow to press freedom in Cambodia” and Ed Legaspi, executive director at the Southeast Asia Press Alliance (SE APA), told the Post that the new owner’s influence would lead to “the death of press freedom in Cambodia.”

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