Information Minister: Papers Must Promise to Stay Open

Some of the 29 newspapers closed by the Ministry of In­for­ma­tion last week could be allowed to re-open if they prove they can re­main financially solvent and publish consistently, Minister of In­for­mation Lu Laysreng said Sun­day.

“I would like to have a lot of newspapers, but those papers have only a name. I will allow them to open again if they pro­mise to publish regularly,” Lu Laysreng said.

The minister was responding to requests from several editors, including Khmer Independence editor Horn Phally. The ministry began shutting down newspapers that could not publish regularly last Tuesday. The shutdown order included 17 magazines and seven newsletters.

Many defunct publications were little more than small circulars for friends, Lu Laysreng said.

But the ministry’s rules unfairly target small, independent newspapers, Horn Phally said.

“I had stopped printing for only three months and the ministry closed my paper down. I don’t understand the ministry’s principles,” Horn Phally said, adding his paper published two or three times per week but struggled to put together enough advertising.

Cambodia has some of the most liberal media laws in Asia. More than 200 publications are registered with the government, but only a fraction publish regularly.

At least one editor says his paper was shut down because of a misunderstanding. The Eco­no­mist newspaper continues to run, but was not be­ing delivered to the Ministry of Information, editor Meas Boreth said.

“My newspaper is still available in the market. Why have they shut it down?” he asked, adding that his publication has come out four times per month since 1993.

Most aggravating was the lack of notice for the government action, Meas Boreth said. “I didn’t receive any formal warning, yet the ministry closed me,” he said.

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