Ratcheting up the stakes in the ongoing controversy over his radio station, Beehive Radio founder Mam Sonando hinted Monday that he might revive his Beehive political party if the government doesn’t allow him to broadcast Radio Free Asia and Voice of America feeds.
“I’ve already asked the Ministry of Information to allow the rebroadcasts and if the ministry still refuses, then this is a political problem—the coalition government doesn’t want the people to know the truth,” he said, speaking at a Club of Cambodian Journalists conference.
When he first began running the feeds from RFA and VOA, he had agreed to stay out of next year’s scheduled elections, but since the government has ordered him to dump the feeds, Mam Sonando said he would look for “another solution.”
“I will find other ways to serve my nation,” he said.
Last month the government threatened to shutter Beehive if it did not stop its daily re-broadcasts of RFA and VOA, both of which receive all or some of their funding from the US government. The Cambodian government has refused to grant either RFA or VOA a broadcasting license for years.
Ministry of Information Secretary of State Khieu Kanharith, who was invited to address the club, did not show. It was proof, Mam Sonando claimed, that the government views free expression with contempt. “It shows he doesn’t respect the democratic process and he has no loyalty to it,” Mam Sonando said.
Khieu Kanharith said he was “very busy” and already had said enough about the issue.
Mam Sonando said if Funcinpec Minister of Information Lu Laysreng disagrees with the threat to close the radio station, he should do something about it.
“He shouldn’t follow someone’s orders to do something. But if he accepts someone’s orders, he’s a scarecrow,” Mam Sonando said.
Lu Laysreng sent the letter to Beehive in October directing the station to halt the broadcasts. The minister has said that Beehive broke the law by playing RFA and VOA.