State broadcaster Radio National Kampuchea (RNK) pulled the program “Women’s Voices, Women’s Choices” from Saturday’s schedule because the CPP, which along with seven other political parties was invited to take part in the panel discussion, declined to participate, according to the program’s producers.
All eight political parties registered to run in the July 28 national election were invited to a live discussion on the subject “the lawmaker’s role,” with the goal of educating a younger generation about politics, said Arun Reaksmey, executive director of Strey Khmer, a women’s rights NGO that produces the radio show.
“We got the response from the CPP two days later saying they could not attend. Yet the program [was to go ahead] and we paid for it to be aired, but [on Thursday] the station said they would not let us broadcast it,” she said, adding that a replacement program entitled “Voter’s Voices” filled the 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. slot.
Strey Khmer wrote a letter informing invited guests of the decision, stating that the reason RNK gave for pulling the program was that the CPP was not participating.
“Although the seven [other] parties agreed to attend the program, it is not transparent without the presence of the Cambodian People’s Party,” the letter quotes an RNK official as saying. The official also claimed that it was unnecessary to run a program about the roles of lawmakers as the National Election Committee had already held such discussions.
Ms. Reaksmey said that Strey Khmer would hold a discussion with RNK over the decision, but RNK said Sunday that an explanation had already been given to the program makers.
“I have told them everything,” said RNK program director Bou Vannarith, who declined to answer any further questions.
Opposition lawmakers have long bemoaned the CPP’s domination of traditional media, which is effectively marginalizing political debate in newspapers, television and radio broadcasts in the run-up to the July election.
Mu Sochua, a candidate for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party who was due to appear on the program, said that the radio discriminates against every party except the CPP.
Analysts are pessimistic about the opposition’s ability to make significant inroads into the CPP’s massive voter base when the current media climate is so heavily tipped in the ruling party’s favor.
“If lawmakers cannot air their voices, how can people discuss anything?” said Cambodian Institution for Media Studies director Moeun Chhean Nariddh.