Cambodia: Prime Minister Orders Shut Down of Independent Broadcaster

Cambodia: Prime Minister Orders Shut Down of Independent Broadcaster
Last updated Feb 13, 2023
Image credit: VOD [via Vice]


  • One of the last remaining independent broadcasters in Cambodia, Voice of Democracy (VOD), has ceased operations after Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday ordered its shutdown over alleged attacks by the outlets on the politician and his son.[1]
  • VOD was accused of reporting misleading coverage about earthquake aid to Turkey — claiming that Hun Sen's son Lt. Gen. Hun Manet signed a document authorizing $100K in relief aid on behalf of his father. Such foreign aid packages can only be signed off with the authority of the prime minister.[2]
  • A statement published on Hun Sen's Facebook page on Sunday announced that the VOD had its license to publish revoked and was compelled to stop broadcasting at 10:00 am Monday local time. It also encouraged foreign donors to withdraw their investments from the outlet, with Hun Sen saying: "Commentators tried to attack me and my son..."[3]
  • The Cambodian Center for Independent Media responded to the allegations by saying the VOD report quoted a government spokesperson — they said they regretted any confusion caused. A number of Western embassies, along with rights and press freedom organizations, have funded the Center, such as Reporters Without Borders and Transparency International.[4]
  • The VOD was co-founded by journalist Alex Willemyns who saw a gap in the market for an English language broadcaster in 2019 after The Cambodia Daily was forced to cease operation in 2017 and a Malaysian owner purchased The Phnom Penh Post the following year.[5]
  • The broadcaster, which has recently produced renowned coverage of a slavery scam, also publishes in Khmer.[4]


Narrative A

VOD has built a reputation for doggedly investigating corruption and human rights abuses in Cambodia, such as issues of human trafficking and scam compounds. Hun Sen has not shut this organization down due to misreporting, he is seeking revenge for VOD's role in exposing official complicity in systemic fraud and exploitation. The international community cannot let this suppression of the free press go unchallenged.

Narrative B

VOD has taken responsibility for its conduct, having sought forgiveness for misreporting over humanitarian aid. Despite the Ministry of Information facilitating a meeting with VOD representatives, the broadcaster failed to apologize for misleading the public about the prime minister. News organizations cannot be allowed to publish unsubstantiated claims without accountability. The global community must put this issue in the proper context.

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