Nhiek Bun Chhay Wants NRP Radio Program Axed Air

Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay has called for the daily Royalist Voices radio program to be taken off the air after a Norodom Ranariddh Party commentator alleged he was implicated in the manufacture of illicit drugs, according to a letter released to the news media Thursday.

On Monday, Nhiek Bun Chhay accused the NRP of spread­ing a rumor that he was a suspect in the case revolving around a clandestine drug lab in Kompong Speu prov­ince raided by police in April.

Shortly following the raid, he publicly distanced himself from former adviser Chea Chung, a suspect in the drug lab case who was arrested Aug 15 and charged last week.

Speaking on the hour-long program on FM 105 Beehive Radio, Noranarith Anandayath, an adviser to Prince Norodom Ranariddh, used the show over a period of days last week “to criticize me and falsely interpret [events] by trying to implicate me in the drug case,” Nhiek Bun Chhay wrote, signing the letter, dated Tuesday, as deputy prime minister.

“I would like to request that the [station] Director [Mam Son­ando] suspend the program for a period of time because, firstly, it seriously affected my reputation and dignity, and secondly, I am preparing documents to file a complaint at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to seek justice for me soon,” he wrote.

Speaking at the site of the drug lab Thursday, Moek Dara, director of the Interior Ministry’s anti-drug department, said there was no evidence to implicate Nhiek Bun Chhay.

“Up to now, no one has said Nhiek Bun Chhay is involved,” he told reporters. “His Excel­lency Nhiek Bun Chhay has help­ed us by providing some documents for our investigation.”

Funcinpec spokesman Nouv Sovathero said Thursday that while Nhiek Bun Chhay was preparing legal action against the station, and against the pro-NRP newspaper Khmer Amatak over similar allegations, he was not threatening Beehive Radio itself.

While on air, Noranarith Anan­dayath had claimed that, as Chea Chung was a former adviser, Nhiek Bun Chhay had to have been aware of his activities, Nouv Sovathero said.

Noranarith Anandayath said that Funcinpec was trying to squelch the NRP’s voice.

His own remarks on air had merely been an interpretation of print media coverage, he added.

In seeking to shut down the radio program, Nhiek Bun Ch­hay had infringed upon the responsibilities of the Information Ministry, he said.

“He is not the Minister of In­formation. Nhiek Bun Chhay used his position as deputy prime minister to make threats against the station when he was unhappy,” Nor­anarith Anandayath said, adding that authorities had taken no action when the pro-Fun­cinpec Ta Prohm radio had at­tack­ed Prince Ranariddh.

An employee of Beehive Radio who answered a telephone belonging to Mam Sonando said the di­rector was in France, but added that the station had written to the producers of Royalist Voices to warn them they faced being taken of the air if they continued with ad hominem attacks.

Noranarith Anandayath said he would cease discussing Nhiek Bun Chhay on air.

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said he was too busy to comment Thursday.

But Information Under­secre­tary of State Thieng Van­darong said Nhiek Bun Chhay had acted as a private individual and had not usurped the ministry’s authority.

Mar Sophal, chief monitor for the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said Nhiek Bun Chhay should seek a correction rather than try to shut down the program.

“If there was a mistake, Nhiek Bun Chhay should request a correction rather than [the program’s] suspension,” he said.

       (Additional reporting by Saing Soenthrith)

 

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