Opposition Party Blasts NEC for Censorship of Campaign Video

The National Election Committee (NEC) admitted Friday it had axed some footage from an opposition-produced video that was broadcast on state TV Thursday night as part of an equal-airtime policy during the council election campaign period.

On Thursday, state broadcaster TVK allotted fifteen minutes to each of the five parties running in Sunday’s provincial and district council elections. While most parties ran standard fare outlining successes or policies, the CNRP ran a reel of brutal footage of numerous bloody protests over the past month.

In the footage, which was compiled by rights group Licadho, police can be seen battering, shooting at and chasing down peaceful protesters. The film also included shots in which deputy Daun Penh district governor Sok Penhvuth can be seen attacking a protester and ordering beatings.

While such videos have been widely disseminated on social media, they have been given little airtime on Cambodia’s heavily government-aligned television stations.

But at a NEC press conference held Friday to update media on the campaign period, a CNRP representative said the film had been partially censored and a clip of lawmaker-elect Mao Monivann was edited out of the reel.

“Does the NEC respect the law?” asked Ouk Suy, a CNRP official. “What is the law that NEC used when cutting the clip of Mao Monivann?”

According to Mr. Suy, the clip showed Mr. Monivann condemning the government’s rampant sell-off of protected forest.

Deputy NEC Secretary-General Sokolac Tipor defended the decision, saying: “The committee has to clear recording, and those [that make claims] without any evidence or proof, we have to cut off.”

Around Phnom Penh, the CNRP’s footage elicited both surprise and cynicism from viewers. Many, however, felt it provided a deft counterpoint to the CPP’s clip, which highlighted the successes of the party over the past three decades, including massive infrastructure development.

“The CPP filmed only road and bridge construction for the people to see, but they didn’t film physical attacks, shooting and land grabbing for the people to see,” said Orn Sam Ath, a sculptor working on Street 178. “It showed the incompetency of the government in controlling and protecting the demonstrators.”

Koung Sareth, a car mechanic in Chaktomuk commune, said the CPP’s development projects had also caused social problems.

“The current development is small, but they try and show it in a large picture…. It’s linked with land eviction that makes the people weep.”

But Narlin, a business student at Pannasastra University who gave only her first name, said that no matter what the emphasis, the television ads were pure politics.

“Their spots are strategic campaigns to win voters’ support, so we will see both the development and the crackdowns,” she said.

[email protected]

Related Stories

Latest News