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Information Minister Building International Cooperation on Media Dissemination

PHNOM PENH: Since assuming the role of Minister of Information in late August, Neth Pheaktra has been working hard to coordinate with information outlets in other countries in his mission to train media outlets according to the government’s approved code of ethics and to “fight against fake news.” The groundwork for his meetings was laid last month when the government created the National Committee for Coordination of Information and Public Opinion meant to strengthen ties between the government and the media to boost public opinion of the new administration. The committee will also be responsible for responding to information that the government contests as fake news.

Soon after the committee was announced, the information minister said that that the government is preparing a singular code of ethics for journalists. Ethics violations were cited for the closing of Voice of Democracy in February and for the digital blocking of Radio Free Asia and the Cambodia Daily leading up to the July elections. Additionally the government will launch a training program to educate journalists and PR representatives on how to do their jobs to disseminate accurate information quickly and accurately in digital spaces.

On September 24, the information minister led a delegation to Vietnam where they met with Voice of Vietnam Director-General Do Tien Sy in Hanoi. The two discussed strengthening the capacity of technical officials and journalists and exchanging professional experience, while the VOV gifted a mobile TV truck and a radio truck to the Ministry of Information.

On September 27, Neth Pheaktra met with senior officials of the Union Media of ASEAN (UMA), an association of Thai and Cambodian journalists. The UMA awarded former Prime Minister Hun Sen the Peace and Development Award in 2016 and publishes the Santepheap Daily website.

 On September 29, Information Minister Neth Pheaktra held a tour for Lancang-Mekong River Journalists in Sihanoukville, where he gave a closing speech in which he said that media organizations should play an active role in guiding public opinion, providing in-depth and comprehensive news reports of the cooperation among regional countries. He said that journalists from the six countries along the river (China, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia) must work together to contribute to peace, prosperity and development.

October 2 was a busy day for the information minister who met with officials and businesspeople from Thailand and the US to strengthen media cooperation and promote his new administration abroad. That day, he also met with Thai Ambassador Cherdkiat Atthakor and a delegation of the Thai Journalists Association. In the meeting, they agreed to continue in strengthening media cooperation, focusing on media delegation exchange between Cambodian and Thai journalists. They also stressed the importance of media cooperation in fighting against fake news.

Neth Pheaktra raised the Twin Radio cooperation between Cambodia and Thailand, which is part of news broadcast enhancement for people living along the border so that they have access to creditable and comprehensive news related to the development of the two neighboring countries. He also met with Piyawat Jriyasetapong, Chief Commercial Officer of Thaicom to discuss the renewal of the cooperation between the Ministry of Information and the Thai provider of satellite and telecommunications services.

That day, the information minister also met with US Ambassador W. Patrick Murphy to discuss information cooperation between the two countries. W. Patrick Murphy was appointed in 2019 under former US President Trump, who used the fight against fake news as one of his leading platforms.

As of publishing, the US Embassy has not released a statement on the meeting.

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