Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday issued letters of appreciation to Cambodian Television Network owner and local tycoon Kith Meng and CTN newsreader Soy Sopheap for their help in resolving recent political tension.
Without explicitly stating how they helped, Hun Sen thanked Kith Meng for assisting him with opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who is expected to return this week, adding that under the current situation “everyone wins.”
In his letter to Soy Sopheap, the prime minister thanked him for helping in the cases of Sam Rainsy, Cheam Channy, Rong Chhun, Chea Mony and other activists.
Their cases have been resolved in “the atmosphere of one family,” Hun Sen said. He said the resolution has won the praise and surprise of foreign diplomats.
Kith Meng, who is president of the Phnom Penh Chamber of Commerce, said Monday that he aided negotiations between Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy over the opposition leader’s return.
He explained that Hun Sen gave him conditions for Sam Rainsy’s return, which Kith Meng then communicated to the opposition leader.
“I also assured Sam Rainsy that he could come back to Cambodia and to his political life,” Kith Meng said.
Soy Sopheap, who helped orchestrate a phone call between Cambodian Center for Human Rights President Kem Sokha and Hun Sen last month, said both sides of the political spectrum listen to journalists like him.
“We journalists…are professional,” he said. “If we were unprofessional and biased, they would not listen.”
He said criticism is inevitable when journalists act as mediators, but added: “Even Buddha had enemies. No one can satisfy everybody.”
Chun Kanal, president of the League of Cambodian Journalists, said Soy Sopheap’s activities were professional.
“He was not biased to any side but helped enhance democracy,” Chun Kanal said.
But independent journalism trainer Moeun Chhean Nariddh said Soy Sopheap’s actions may affect his professional reputation as an independent observer.
“I’m afraid he could no longer be seen as a journalist,” he said.