CPP-Friendly Publisher to Launch English Paper

T Mohan, the Malaysian national who edited The Cambodia Times and The Vision newspapers in the 1990s before being arrested for attempting to extort a casino executive on behalf of an alleged insurgent group, is planning to launch a new English-language newspaper.

Mr. Mohan edited the Kuala Lumpur-based Cambodia Times between 1993 and 1995 before serving as publisher-editor for The Vision until it collapsed in June 2000. He was arrested and released in September 2000 for attempting to extort $5,000 from NagaWorld Casino’s vice president Song Meng Kong on behalf of a shadowy rebel group known as the “Khmer Serey.”

Mr. Mohan had the year prior written and published a series of apparent exposes, which were widely dismissed, about the rebel group’s alleged insurgent activities in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces.

His new venture, Khmer Times, has been launched under the auspices of his Phnom Penh-based Virtus Group consultancy and opened February 28 with an online article citing an unnamed Funcinpec Party source talking about the return to politics by former First Prime Minister Norodom Ranariddh.

A mission statement on the newspaper’s website says that it will strive to remain independent and will begin a daily print run this year.

“The country has been dominated by two newspapers for the past decade or so and therefore we feel that it is time for a third force. We will have a steady start and turn daily before mid-2014,” the mission statement says.

“We believe that the essential function of government is to maintain order and security of lives and property, and that the cardinal business of government is to create the conditions for efficient and profitable expansion of marketable goods and services, and continually reduce the size of the non-marketable public sector,” the statement adds.

An article published on the Khmer Times website on Sunday about Saturday’s attempt by garment factory unions to hold a public forum in Freedom Park describes the event as an example of how opposition demonstrations and workers’ strikes in Phnom Penh have now “fizzled out.”

“[S]everal hundred people had gathered and were given a brief address by CNRP antagonists, Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha,” the article reads.

An article published Saturday and headlined “Rainsy’s Hidden Hand” speaks of the lethal suppression of protests and strikes in early January, saying that the government “rightly banned demonstrations designed to stabilize the country’s political, social and economic stability.”

Mr. Mohan did not respond to request for comment Sunday.

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