New Proprietor Paper Starts by Shooting editor

Ebony Scott
May 10, 2018

The pair also said the paper's editor-in-chief Kay Kimsong had been fired.

The story was still available on Monday afternoon on the The Post's website.

The Post's main English-language rival, the Cambodia Daily, shut its doors a year ago after being presented with an onerous tax bill, an action that many believe was politically motivated.

"We got to a point with our new editor-in-chief, to me at least, where it seemed like there was an irreconcilable difference when it came to editorial independence", said Ms Erin Handley, one of the reporters to resign on Tuesday.

The new owner, who bought the business from Australian publisher Bill Clough, is said to own a PR firm called Asia PR which has previously done work for Prime Minister Hun Sen. "I didn't feel like I could do that in good conscience, so I resigned immediately".

Web editor Jenni Reid then refused and resigned, followed by the co-authors of the piece, business editor Brendan O'Byrne and senior journalist Ananth Baliga.

Crisis grips Cambodian's last independent daily as journalists quit in protest.

The Post staff's intention was "to make [Sivakumar] look bad and while ignoring the context and that is not acceptable", he said.

"Our article was written in an attempt to maintain the transparency and integrity of our paper as we have done for more than 25 years", the statement said, adding that the demand to remove the article was "made in contradiction to the values of a free press".

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Kimsong, O'Byrne and Baliga were all targeted by Sivakumar in an internal memo savaging the Post's coverage of the newspaper's sale, with the new owner calling on all three staff members to be "terminated".

Among Sivakumar's complaints against the article were that the reporters forgot to publish his middle initial and that they identified him as "an executive" and "executive director" of Asia PRrather than CEO and managing director.

The crackdown comes ahead of a July 29 general election that Hun Sen is widely expected to win now that the CNRP has been dissolved and more than 100 of its lawmakers banned from politics.

Daniel Bastard, head of the Asia-Pacific desk of Reporters Without Borders, expressed his solidarity with the Post's journalists. Its website says, without elaborating, that Hun Sen's "entry into the government seat" was among its government-related projects.

"I am devastated at the prospect of not being able to work every day with some of best journalists I know".

In recent months local media had reported that the Phnom Penh Post was facing tax troubles.

The main opposition party - Mr Hun Sen's only real rival - was dissolved in a court ruling a year ago, in a move that rights groups condemned as a death knell for the country's democracy.

Kimsong told Southeast Asia Globe magazine that he was sacked because he had "allowed the printing of an independent story based on journalistic integrity".

Cambodia ranked 142 out of 180 worldwide locations on the 2018 World Press Freedom index compiled by Reporters With out Borders.

Other reports by GizPress

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