Editor of renowned Cambodia paper fired by new owners

Editor of renowned Cambodia paper fired by new owners

Editor of renowned Cambodia paper fired by new owners

Editor-in-chief Kay Kimsong also refused and was dismissed.

"I trust my reporters and my editors and I think that being journalists, we made the right decision. I wish the fantastic journalists at the Post all the best".

On Saturday it was announced that Australian mining businessman Bill Clough had sold the Phnom Penh Post to Sivakumar Ganapathy, a Malaysian investor and executive at public relations firm Asia PR, which includes the Cambodian government among its former clients.

Mr Hun Sen's government has taken a hammer to the fragile democracy's once-vibrant media scene over the past year, leaving the Post as one of few remaining watchdogs in the graft-riddled country. More worryingly, Sivakumar's personal description maintains that he now "leads the Asia PR team in managing "covert operations" for our clients". Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, told Reuters that the deal was a "disaster for media freedom".

The newspaper, which frequently published stories criticising the government, was shut down last September after being hit with a $6.3 million tax bill widely believed to be politically motivated.

Emotions ran high in the hallways and offices of the Post on Monday afternoon after the new ownership tussled with editors over the story.

Stuart White, the managing editor; Brendan O'Byrne, the business editor; Jenni Reid, the web editor; and Baliga all refused to comply and resigned.

"They said that as editor-in-chief I allowed the story about the sale of the Phnom Penh Post to be published". Chief ececutive Marcus Holmes was the last to tender his resignation. Management refused, and Kimsong was sacked shortly after.

The sale of the paper came after a wrongful termination suit brought by a former CEO, as well as a $3.9-million (€3.27-million) tax bill from the General Department of Taxation (GDT), the Phnom Penh Post reported.

A statement issued by Ganapthy said he intends to maintain the Post's independence.

In response to an email, his assistant, Krishna Kumaar, said Ganapathy was expected to return in two weeks.

The paper's main rival, the Cambodia Daily, and dozens of radio stations were shuttered a year ago as part of a wider crackdown on critics ahead of 2018 polls that Mr Hun Sen is determined to win.

"I hope this is just a blip in the history of the Post and it continues to be an independent, successful newspaper serving the Cambodian people".

In the a year ago the Cambodian government closed The Cambodia Daily and dissolved the main opposition party in a wide-ranging crackdown.

Cambodia plunged 10 places in this year's media freedom ranking by Reporters Without Borders, which described the country as hosting a "climate of terror that has drastically curtailed press freedom".

The Post's sale may indicate that Hun Sun's administration has decided that it no longer needs to allow a free media to operate in the country as a concession for getting Western aid, said Shawn Crispin, the Bangkok-based Southeast Asia representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists, a nonpartisan advocacy group based in NY.

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