The Ministry of Information has given the go-ahead for the Voice of Khmer Youth newspaper to resume printing today after just three days of a projected 30-day suspension, Minister of Information Lu Laysreng said in a statement Tuesday.
But a letter Tuesday from King Norodom Sihanouk to the paper’s editor-in-chief, Keo Sothea, threatened legal action against the newspaper if it declined to reveal the source of its Friday article that said Queen Norodom Monineath and her son, Prince Norodom Sihamoni, had frequently met with Prime Minister Hun Sen at his house.
Oum Daravuth, Funcinpec secretary of state for the Ministry of Information, said the paper was suspended after receiving a request Friday from Minister of the Royal Palace Kong Sam Ol.
He said he based the suspension order on the Constitution, which states that the King is “inviolable.”
Khieu Kanharith, the ministry’s CPP secretary of state, stated previously that the ministry could not issue such a suspension without first going through the courts.
At a meeting between Oum Daravuth and the Queen on Monday, the Queen asked for the suspension to be halted, Oum Daravuth said Tuesday.
Oum Daravuth, who is Queen Monineath’s nephew, said he did not know why the Queen made the request.
The story was “not good for her reputation,” he said.
The newspaper ran a correction Saturday. It did not publish on Sunday and Tuesday. The paper normally doesn’t publish on Mondays.
In a letter Tuesday to Keo Sothea, Lu Laysreng granted permission to resume publication but cautioned the paper to “write more accurate information and respect the code of ethics of the profession in order to strengthen the media.”
Keo Sothea said Tuesday that he would write a letter to the King today to “request the King to grant me a pardon” and not bring him to court.
In the letter to Keo Sothea, King Sihanouk asked the editor to reveal the source for the story and exactly how many times the newspaper believed the Queen visited Hun Sen’s house.
“If these key points are not explained clearly, I could not grant an amnesty,” he wrote. “We will have to let the capable court clarify this point.”
Article 2 of Cambodia’s press law states that “the press has rights to maintain the confidentiality of its sources.”
A royal Cabinet official said Tuesday he did not know if the King had formally initiated any legal action.
In a separate statement issued on Tuesday, the King noted that he has “always accorded by royal pardon to all the newspapers and journalists who have unjustly calumnied me, attacked me in writing, dragged me in the mud in their articles.
He added that he would “grant, with the agreement of my spouse, my royal pardon, if they are willing to confirm to me, with proof or a witness that Queen Monineath has gone once, or more than once, to Hun Sen’s house.
“My spouse has affirmed to me that she hasn’t visited once, or more than once, the house of Samdech Hun Sen,” the King wrote in the statement.