Over the past few days, the media situation in Cambodia seems to have been bogged down in a tense climate after the government issued its last warning for the media to comply with the order to use the proper titles of senior government officials.
—Letter to the Editor—
However, the tension leading to the ultimatum came to an abrupt end following Prime Minister Hun Sen’s unexpected decision to allow the press not to use the proper title “Samdech” in their stories.
In a sense, we can say it was a “win-win” solution, which the prime minister has employed in many of the political deadlocks in Cambodia in recent years.
The prime minister’s decision can be considered a democratic solution. In a democratic society, a politician, a political party or an interest group may propose a law or raise an issue for discussion. However, a draft of the law or an issue can be adopted or dismissed based on public opinion.
As for the media, their steadfast decision not to comply with the order to use the title should also be applauded. It is important for a professional media outlet to live up to professional principles and safeguard its beliefs and professional integrity.
Nevertheless, we should also concede that during formal events, and when meeting senior government officials, we would follow the ceremonial protocol and address officials accordingly.
I hope that both the government and the media will continue to find win-win solutions based on democratic principles to improve information sharing and make Cambodia a more informed society.
Moeun Chhean Nariddh
Director, Cambodia Institute for Media Studies