Newspaper Completes Jump From SRP to CPP

Its metamorphosis now complete, the once SRP-affiliated Sralanh Khmer newspaper proudly displayed its new colors in its Monday edition by attacking three opposition political parties and praising the ruling CPP.

The 180-degree change, which includes a switch from black-and-white to color, comes one week after Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that Sralanh Khmer publisher Thach Keth had defected to the CPP.

“Opposition Party Has No More Blood,” reads the front-page headline of an editorial by Thach Keth on recent defections from the SRP to the CPP. The front page also includes an article praising CPP adviser Sok Pheng, an SRP parliamentarian who defected to the ruling party last month, for his work in investigating the alleged illegal detention of former SRP activist Tim Norn—a case that has sparked criticism of the government from rights groups.

Thach Keth, also a government adviser, said by telephone Monday that he decided to run pieces critical of the SRP, the Norodom Ranariddh Party and the Human Rights Party in response to their criticism of his defection.

“I have just responded,” he said. “I will continue to attack the SRP.”

Thach Keth said that he decided to print the newspaper in color in an effort to attract advertisers and denied receiving any funding from the CPP to switch to the more expensive format.

“I spend my own [money]. I do not have anyone to support me,” he said, adding that he received no financial support from the SRP when his newspaper was affiliated with the party.

SRP Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang said he was disappointed by the new content of the newspaper, which he said was known for its criticism of corruption and its opposition to the ruling party.

“Readers used to read the newspaper for articles related to corruption, but now the newspaper is no longer opposing [corruption],” he said.

Puthea Hang, director for the Neutral and Impartial Committee on Free and Fair Elections, said the loss of Sralanh Khmer could prove a serious blow to the SRP.

“It will affect the party’s popularity,” he said.

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