Post sold as pressure on Cambodian press continues

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Tax demands have become a common denominator in the gradual demise of Cambodia's independent media.

Following the closure of the Cambodia Daily last year, after being confronted with a $6.3 million tax bill, the Phnom Penh Post changed hands last week with payment of its outstanding tax demand reported to be part of the deal.

Australian Bill Clough confirmed to the BBC that he had sold the Post to Malaysian businessman Sivakumar Ganapathy, citing a fall in advertising revenues and the tax demand for his decision. Sivakumar - described as a "well respected newspaper man" who has said he will "uphold the Post's legacy and editorial independence" - is also reported to be a director of a PR company which has worked for the Cambodian government.

The BBC says managing editor Stuart White and several senior journalists have left the English-language paper after editor-in-chief Kay Kimsong was fired and demands made for an online report about the change of ownership to be taken down.

Reporters Without Borders says that while the government maintains "very good relations" with the leading media owners, an "all-out war" on independent media had followed "surprisingly" good performance by opposition candidates in last June's municipal elections, "with the aim of ensuring victory in the general elections scheduled for July 2018".

Apart from the Cambodia Daily closure, it said about 30 radio stations had been silenced, and several journalists were in prison.

"Combined with the shooting death of a media commentator, this has resulted in a climate of terror that has drastically curtailed press freedom," says Reporters Without Borders.

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