Editor of renowned Cambodia paper fired by new Malaysian owners

The 26-year-old Phnom Penh Post was sold to Malaysian investor Sivakumar S Ganapathy over the weekend for an unknown sum. (AFP)
Updated 07 May 2018

Editor of renowned Cambodia paper fired by new Malaysian owners

PHNOM PENH: Crisis gripped Cambodia’s last independent newspaper Monday as the editor-in-chief was fired by its new owner over a front-page article on the sale, while several senior reporters resigned in protest at the apparent attack on editorial integrity.
The 26-year-old Phnom Penh Post was sold to Malaysian investor Sivakumar S Ganapathy over the weekend for an unknown sum.
Since then the newspaper, once respected for its fearless, independent reporting, has gone into meltdown — the latest unraveling of a prominent media organization under the watch of Cambodia’s increasingly authoritarian premier Hun Sen.
Editor Kay Kimsong said he was sacked for signing off on a piece exploring the implications of the sale.
“The new owner fired me today... because I approved today’s front-page story,” Kimsong said.
“I have done my duty as editor-in-chief for the newspaper... but the new boss has the right to make the decision.”
The story identified the new proprietor as the Malaysian investor, who is also the CEO of Kuala Lumpur-based public relations firm Asia PR, a business the report said “has previously done work” for Hun Sen.
The two reporters who wrote the piece resigned on Monday afternoon and at least one senior editor on the English-language version of paper also quit — all three alleging they were ordered to pull the story.
“I resigned this morning after being told to take down the Post’s story on its sale, which I refused to do,” Stuart White, the former managing editor of the English-language paper said.
The story was still available on Monday afternoon on the Post’s website.
A spokesperson for Asia PR declined to make an immediate comment and repeated calls to The Post went unanswered on Monday afternoon.
Media deemed to be critical of Cambodia’s government have been eviscerated by hefty tax bills and defamation cases over recent months.
Rights groups say the legal woes are linked to Hun Sen, who is clearing the board of all potential opposition ahead of elections in July.
The Post’s chief rival, the Cambodia Daily, was forced to close in August 2017 after it was landed with an unpayable tax bill, announcing its closure the same day authorities arrested opposition leader Kem Sokha on treason charges.
The crackdown also saw dozens of radio stations taken off air and the jailing of two reporters from Radio Free Asia.
Cambodia plunged 10 places in this year’s media freedom ranking by Reporters Without Borders.
In recent months local media had reported that the Phnom Penh Post was facing tax troubles.

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.