The Phnom Penh Post’s editor-in-chief has been fired and four other top editors resigned after they refused to remove an article about the newspaper’s new owner from its website.
The daily Cambodia paper was this week sold to Sivakumar Ganapathy, a Malaysian investor and executive at public relations firm, Asia PR. The company’s website says that it has previously done work for Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government. (ABC Australia)
A story on the Phnom Penh Post website said the sale followed a wrongful termination suit brought by a former chief executive and a US$3.9 million tax bill from the government.
The article also said Asia PR’s past clients include “Cambodia and Hun Sen’s entry into the Government seat.”
A reporter and sub editor at the newspaper Erin Handley relayed a statement from managing editor Stuart White on Twitter. White said he resigned after he was told to take down the article about the sale.
“The Post has always been fiercely protective of its independence and I felt that order was a sign that that might be in jeopardy going forward,” he said in the statement.
Our new editor in chief, who identified himself as Joshua Pureu, will have full editorial approval over all the Post stories from now on. As such, I doubt I’ll be able to write this story for the Post as I usually would. I’ll tweet it instead.
— Erin Handley (@erinahandley) May 7, 2018
Sivakumar said in a press release distributed to staff on Saturday that he intended to maintain the newspaper’s editorial independence. However there has been a recent crackdown on independent media.
The Cambodia Daily, another independent newspaper, closed last year after it received a $6.3m tax bill.