Cambodian paper shuts in face of PM’s tax demand

Above, a screenshot of the Cambodia Daily’s website. Cambodia Daily was known for critical coverage of issues such as corruption, human rights and the environment.
Updated 03 September 2017

Cambodian paper shuts in face of PM’s tax demand

PHNOM PENH: An independent English-language newspaper in Cambodia said on Sunday it was ceasing publication after Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government ordered it to pay a huge tax bill amid a growing campaign against critical voices ahead of next year’s election.
The Cambodia Daily, known for critical coverage of issues such as corruption, human rights and the environment, was ordered to shut down if it could not pay $6.3 million to cover 10 years of back taxes by Monday.
“It will cease publication as of September 4, 2017,” the newspaper said. “After 24 years and 15 days, the Cambodian government has destroyed The Cambodia Daily, a special and singular part of Cambodia’s free press.”
The publication was founded in 1993 by an American journalist, making it a particular target for Hun Sen, who has accused the US of plotting with the opposition against his government.
Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia for more than three decades and has shown no signs of willingness to relinquish power, last month stepped up attacks on the media and non-governmental organizations.
His Cambodian People’s Party won local elections in June, but the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party also did well, increasing expectations of a close contest in the coming general election.
Opposition leader leader Kem Sokha was arrested in a police raid on his home early on Sunday after Hun Sen accused him of treason with the backing of the United States.
In a speech on Sunday, Hun Sen defended his deadline to The Cambodia Daily to pay its taxes, according to pro-government news outlet Fresh News.
“When we tax them, they said we shut down press freedom,” Hun Sen was quoted as saying. “When doing businesses, you have to pay tax. But when they didn’t pay and we asked them to leave the country, they said we are a dictatorship,” he added.

Arab films set for Red Sea Film Festival screening

Updated 24 February 2020

Arab films set for Red Sea Film Festival screening

  • MBC Group to support young film makers with training from industry professionals

LONDON: Young Arab film makers will have the opportunity to have their work showcased at next month’s Red Sea International Film Festival as investment in Saudi cinema gathers pace.

The Red Sea International Film Festival has announced a partnership with MBC Group, which will also broadcast the event’s opening ceremony on March 12.

As part of the deal, MBC Al Amal, MBC’s corporate social responsibility arm, will hold a Shorts pitch competition.

Ten short film projects will be selected from Saudi Arabia and the MENA region, with filmmakers being given a one-day workshop to prepare for a pitching session. 

Italian director and producer Stefano Tealdi will train the candidates to strengthen their skills and give them tips for better pitches, MBC said.

“We strongly believe that this new generation of talent is key in influencing change and creating the difference to the region’s media and entertainment content landscape, which of course includes independent film and mainstream cinema,” said Peter Smith, managing director of MBC Studios.

The region’s biggest broadcaster will also host talent days on March 17 and 18 to support Saudi scriptwriters, directors and producers.

The inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival takes place March 12-21 in Jeddah Old Town, under the theme “Changing the Script.” It aims to support and help grow Saudi Arabia’s emerging film industry which is attracting a slew of investment from homegrown dramas shot in the Kingdom to the construction of cinemas countrywide.

Real estate broker CBRE estimates that 45 new cinemas are expected to open this year.

The boom in cinema construction coincides with a push to develop the domestic Saudi film industry.

That is being driven by both the big and small screen as video-on-demand players that include MBC, Netflix and Amazon compete to deliver content that speaks to a young Arab audience.