Praise for PM’s Border Work Floods Airwaves

Programming in support of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s border ne­­gotiations with Vietnam dominated television broadcasts Monday, in­­­cluding anti-Norodom Sihanouk songs from the 1970s, petitions from dis­parate groups and a firebrand speech by Hun Sen broadcast on three channels.

With a map of Cambodia in the background, Sin Sisamuth’s legen­d­ary voice sang the Lon Nol-era song “Tomorrow, Say Good-bye to Mother to Join the Army” on state-con­troll­ed TV—a song whose lyrics ac­cuse the retired King of giving land to the Viet Cong and calling for children to join the army.

“Feel sorrow, Khmer land from [our] ancestors the King sold to the Viet Cong, betrayed nation, religion,” the singer crooned.

TVK and Bayon television broadcast petitions sent from across Cam­bodia supporting the government’s signing of the controversial border treaty.

One letter broadcast in the name of Kompong Chhnang Provincial Gov­ernor Touch Marin offered the sup­port of all district governors, de­puty district governors, civil servants, students, armed forces and or­­dinary citizens.

“We really appreciate that [Hun Sen] has the wisdom to bring peace and happiness to the nation,” the TVK presenter read from the letter. “We strongly oppose the un­thought­ful people who often create chaos.”

TVK also broadcast petitions from Phnom Penh primary schools in favor of the treaty, and Apsara TV broadcast extracts from pro-government newspapers.

One television channel showed heavily armed Intervention Police drilling with gas masks, riot shields, ba­tons, attack dogs and automatic wea­pons.

Radio stations including Bayon, FM 99 and FM 103 carried call-in shows in which both hosts and cal­lers praised Hun Sen and criticized border activists. Beehive FM 105 Radio, whose ow­n­er Mam Sonan­do is incarcerated following a controversial interview about the border, broadcast the Cambodian Cen­ter for Human Rights’ Voice of Demo­cracy program.

Chea Vannath of the Center for So­cial Development said television is monopolized by the CPP, but ad­ded that the party’s large-scale use of the media is a joyless endeavor.

“When you compete with somebody that is much lower in re­source or finance, there is no joy in the com­pe­tition, because there is no challenge,” she said.

Bayon TV/Radio Deputy Direc­tor Rith Chettra said people from around the country sent their support for Hun Sen.

Apsara TV/Radio General Di­rec­tor Sok Ey San said although everyone who called in supported Hun Sen, the network is still open to cal­lers with alternative political views.

“One hundred percent of people call in support of the prime minister,” he said. “We have only one [telephone] line. If they are good at pressing the phone buttons, they can get through.”

 

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