New Ministers Welcomed Into Government, Journalist Refused Entry

Five new ruling party ministers were welcomed into the country’s Cabinet yesterday in ceremonies presided over by senior members of the government including Prime Minister Hun Sen and Deputy Prime Minister Sok An.

A day after the prime minister—in a more than six-hour speech—pledged to turn over a new leaf promising a more open, reformist government, Mr. Hun Sen welcomed in Aun Porn Moniroth as the new Finance Minister at a ceremony at the Ministry of Finance under the close watch of a large contingent of his personal bodyguards and riot police stationed nearby.

A Cambodia Daily reporter was refused entry to the ceremony after identifying the newspaper he worked for, being told that the ceremony for Mr. Porn Moniroth was already “full.”

During a speech at the ceremony, Mr. Hun Sen criticized a newspaper article that appeared Thursday in the newspaper, which reported that some members of the public had responded with “yawns” to his speech on reform the day before, preferring instead to watch cartoons on TV, according to a report on the DAP News website.

According to DAP, Mr. Hun Sen said it was inevitable that some people would love him and some people would hate him, and that he did not expect everybody to be enthralled by his promises of reform.

“Whoever wants to listen, let them listen; whoever doesn’t want to listen, that is up to them,” Mr. Hun Sen was quoted as saying by DAP. “Even the Buddha, not everyone loves him. If everyone loved the Buddha, there’d be no need to have Muslims, Christ and Hindus.

“So if everyone loved Hun Sen, why would other parties have been elected?”

Moeun Chhean Nariddh, director of the Cambodia Institute for Media Studies, said that it was not surprising—even a day after an extended promise of reform by the prime minister—that a journalist could be turned away from an important event involving a new minister.

“This is a violation of freedom of information, but…this is normal in Cambodia,” he said.

Separately yesterday, Mr. An presided over a welcoming ceremony for Hang Chuon Naron at the Ministry of Education; Defense Minister Tea Banh presided over a ceremony for Vong Sauth at the Ministry of Social Affairs; Foreign Minister Hor Namhong presided over one for Sun Chanthol at the Ministry of Commerce; and Deputy Prime Minister Men Sam An presided over the ceremony for Phoeung Sakona at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, according to an agenda of the ceremonies released by the Council of Ministers.

The new ministers for Labor, Agriculture, Posts and Telecommunications and Industry, Mines and Energy are set to attend their welcoming ceremonies today.

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