Pro-Government Media Blank on Rainsy’s Return

The hours of traffic chaos along Russian Boulevard, the return of opposition leader Sam Rainsy after almost four years abroad and the estimated 100,000 people who rallied in Phnom Penh on Friday did not make it to the nation’s television screens.

As the human juggernaut of tens of thousands of young people noisily and boisterously accompanied Mr. Rainsy from the airport to Freedom Park for his first speech, state-owned TVK, as well as private, pro-government broadcasters CTN, CNC, TV3, TV5, TV9, Bayon TV and Apsara TV did not show what was easily the top news of the week.

Instead, the nation’s TV stations were filled with the usually dull mix of karaoke starlets, Chinese soap operas, sports and the CPP’s election campaigning across the country. Apsara TV, which is operated by senior officials in Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling party, had some current affairs in the guise of footage of a gathering of about a dozen people who removed CNRP shirts and replaced them with CPP shirts.

Though experts at covering the most trifling of news—from car crashes to purse snatching in remote provinces—the websites of local news publications also looked bleak on Friday. Reaksmei Kampuchea and Kampuchea Thmey ignored entirely the return of Mr. Rainsy, while Koh Santhepheap bucked the trend and posted a brief news alert that announced Mr. Rainsy’s return to Cambodia.

The online news website DAP ran an opinion piece on the relationship between Kem Sokha and Mr. Rainsy, highlighting that Mr. Sokha had a “sad smile” on his face upon Mr. Rainsy’s return.

The Cambodia Express News was the only local news website that published a series of stories, including an analysis that attempted to forecast whether Mr. Rainsy would protest the result of the July 28 election, which independent election monitors have long said is shaping up to be the least fair election in 20 years.

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