The sale of any newspaper is always a contentious issue and none more so than in places where personal freedoms are under attack and democratic space is seen as contracting.
With one English-language newspaper already shutting down after receiving a US$6.3 million tax bill, when AEC News Today revealed that the almost 26-year-old The Phnom Penh Post was also in trouble with the Cambodia tax department conspiracy theorists were quick to decry nefarious hands at play.
When it became known that the PR firm that the new owner was also the chief executive of listed Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen as one of its previous clients the verdict was in. This was nothing less than a thinly veiled attempt by the Cambodia government to shut down a newspaper whose reporting was often a thorn in the Cambodia Prime Minister’s side.
From around the world journalists, many who had previously worked at The Phnom Penh Post, NGOs, and media commentators loudly decried what was termed an all out assault on media freedom in Cambodia.
When the new owner ordered a story written about the change of ownership in his newly acquired newspaper deleted because of innacuracies, in the process ordering those responsible for its publication “terminated with immediate effect”, the howling reached new heights.
One after the other foreign staff at The Phnom Penh Post rushed to hand in their resignations in what became an almost apocalypse in the newsroom, with 16 people leaving the publication in two days.
Demonised before he had even stepped foot into either The Phnom Penh Post office or Cambodia, Sivakumar S Ganapathy, or Siva Kumar G for short, was under no illusions as to how he was seen by Cambodia and regional journalists, and others globally who had affiliations and sentimental attachments to The Phnom Penh Post.
It’s unsurprising that his first meeting with foreign and local journalists in the Cambodia capital Phnom Penh last week saw several heated exchanges amid robust questioning aimed at laying bare his true intentions of reigning in the publication’s ‘editorial independence’. However, despite the best effort of those present none of the accusations levelled at the new Post Media Co. owner came anywhere near hitting the mark.
What were the burning questions that the international and local media most wanted answered? What did Mr Ganapathy really say about his intentions for The Phnom Penh Post? Check out our recording of the question and answer session from the media conference to find out.
Feature video Leakhena Khat
- New Phnom Penh Post Owner Turns Terminator Decrying Sabotage, Ethics (AEC News Today)
- No Coercion: Phnom Penh Post Sale One Year in The Works (HD Video) (AEC News Today)
Between November 2010 and February 2012 she was a staff writer at Daylight Online, Nigeria writing on health, fashion, and relationships. From 2010 – 2017 she worked as a freelance screen writer for ‘Nollywood’, Nigeria.
She joined AEC News Today in December 2016.