Cambodia Daily branded 'a thief', forced to close over tax fight

04 September, 2017, 10:59 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • The prime minister of Cambodia Hun Sen.     Shutterstock

The closing comes during a wider government crackdown on the media, which rights watchdogs and commentators say is meant to solidify the position of Prime Minister Hun Sen, one of the longest-ruling leaders in the region, ahead of the 2018 parliamentary elections.

DeJonge said that The Cambodia Daily had "never taken a penny" from foreign governments or NGOs and just about broke even thanks to advertising, subscriptions and money from Krisher.

Kem Sokha's daughter Monovithya Kem, who is also an official in his Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), said on Twitter that Kem Sokha and his bodyguards had been taken away by between 100 and 200 police who did not have an arrest warrant.

The government said the video and other evidence indicated "secret plans of a conspiracy between Kem Sokha. and foreigners to harm the Kingdom of Cambodia".

Hun Sen, 65, a former Khmer Rouge cadre, who is now one of China's closest regional allies, said Kem Sokha had been arrested for treason in which the United States was implicated.

"This government move follows a number of troubling recent steps, including the imposition of unprecedented restrictions on independent media and civil society". In June's local commune elections, the CNRP won some 46 percent of the vote to the government's 51 percent.

John Sifton of Human Rights Watch tweeted that his organisation was "calling on governments worldwide to summon Cambodia's ambassadors for a dress down".

Charles Santiago, a member of the Malaysian Parliament and chairman of the organization, said the arrest violated the immunity protection that should be afforded Mr. Kem Sokha as a member of Cambodia's Parliament.


The arrest "sends a very clear signal that democracy in Cambodia is under severe threat", she said, adding that if Kem Sokha is not released, "it's very clear there will be no free and fair elections" in 2018.

The government has stepped up attacks on the United States and last month ordered the expulsion of the U.S. State Department-funded National Democratic Institute pro-democracy group.

The newspaper said Monday's edition would be its last and blamed "extra-legal threats by the government to close the Daily, freeze its accounts and prosecute the new owner" for the closure.

The government contends The Daily owes a tax bill of $6.3 million dating back a decade. Her statement did not directly address Hun Sen's accusations against the United States.

"The power to tax is the power to destroy", said a statement from the Cambodia Daily on Sunday.

Steven Butler, Asia program director for the Committee to Project Journalists, told NPR the recent events in Cambodia are part of a growing antagonism toward a free press throughout Southeast Asia.

Its motto: "All the News Without Fear or Favor".

More than a dozen radio stations carrying opposition content, along with USA -funded broadcasters Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, have also been forced to close, the Daily reported.

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