The Ministry of Information has issued an ultimatum to more than 800 “journalists” who are alleged to have accepted monetary gifts from a casino in Takeo province. 

A ministry press release announced that the journalists must present themselves at the ministry’s General Department of Information and Audiovisual for clarification by December 20.

The Top Diamond Casino recently posted on social media, saying that between 700 and 900 individuals claiming to represent the media had used their press cards to claim money from the casino every month. 

In an October 4 directive, the ministry ordered the casino to release a list of the names of each of those alleged to have extorted funds.

In response, the casino issued an apology letter to the ministry for suggesting that they were all members of media institutions, which negatively impacted journalistic integrity. The casino also named 828 individuals, as the ministry had requested. 

The ministry clarified that the 828 figure represents individuals, not media units or companies.

It is currently verifying the list, in order to ascertain the precise number of media entities – both registered and unregistered – and explore possible legal action. It has confirmed that some journalists indeed sought payments from the casino.

The casino has pledged ongoing collaboration with the ministry to resolve past issues and supported measures against journalists who breached their professional ethics. The collaboration aims to enhance the quality of information delivery and media order in the Kingdom.

Nop Vy, executive director of the Cambodian Journalists Alliance (CamboJa), said that such actions severely compromised journalistic ethics and the affected the dignity of members of the press who adhere to appropriate ethical standards. 

“For me, the issue is not about education and further understanding, but rather, the extent of what actions will be taken,” he added.

“We are aware of the level of morality among journalists in some provinces; therefore, we need to promote professional ethics more broadly,” he continued.

The ministry also reminded all reporters to adhere to the press law. It warned against selfish motives and ethical breaches that tarnish the honour of the media and disrupt order. It also vowed to pursue legal action against any further violations of press regulations, according to the press release.