Minister Attacks News Agency’s Commentary

Minister of Information Lu Laysreng attacked government news agency Agence Kampu­chea-Presse, claiming that its re­cent, widely publicized commentary insinuating that Funcinpec members were “cowards” for criticizing the CPP would fuel the political firestorm between the two parties and threaten national security.

The piece, titled “Don’t Think Cambodians Forget,” has “confused” the public and lacked any semblance of “ethics of journalism,” he wrote in a letter to the AKP director general.

The news agency, which is under the authority of the Infor­mation Ministry, published its comments on May 23 amid a brewing war of words between Prime Minister Hun Sen and Funcinpec President Prince Nor­odom Ranariddh. The news agency’s lengthy piece has been broadcast on pro-CPP radio and television.

In his letter, Lu Laysreng asked that stations refrain from broadcasting any information that shows “bias or lack of responsibility.”

This is the only way to “avoid such an unfriendly situation be­tween the ruling parties,” he said.

But ministry Secretary of State and CPP spokesman Khieu Kan­harith said Lu Laysreng doesn’t have control over what stations can air.

“We can’t take any measures against those programs on television,” he said. If we did, he said, that would “put pressure on the freedom of press.”

Last week, Bayon and Apsara television stations, both pro-CPP, aired opinion programs on which journalists attacked Funcinpec.

Thai Norak Satia, Bayon station general director, said their program was a response to Prince Ranariddh’s regular appearance on Ta Prohm radio station bashing CPP and claiming that it is a “communist” party.

“They didn’t keep their promise to maintain the coalition between two parties,” Thai Norak Satia said.

Sok Ey San, director general of Apsara television, said last week he had no idea the coalition between Funcinpec and CPP was so fragile. He admitted he supports the government and produced the programs to respond to recent attacks on the CPP.

“I support the government. That is why I use the program to analyze the facts for the people.”

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