PM in correspondents’ dinner

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Prime Minister Hun Sen will meet and dine with nearly 5,000 journalists from across the county in his third media correspondents’ meeting in Phnom Penh on Friday.

“I will meet journalists during a solidarity dinner on Friday, January 11, at Koh Pich,” he announced on his Facebook page on Thursday."

In the message, Hun Sen also posted a photo of his young self standing next to other officials with a camera strapped around his neck.

Lauding journalists’ contributions to Cambodia’s development, he wrote: “We had lost the opportunities to develop the country for years due to war. Now that the country has full peace, we need tourists, entrepreneurs and foreign investors … positive news will provide them with confidence.”

The Information Ministry’s information and broadcasting department director-general Phos Sovann told The Post that his ministry is responsible for distributing venue access cards to the meeting attendees.

Sovann noted the increase in the number of expected participants in the third edition of the annual gathering, with about 4,000 journalists attending the previous one.

“The meeting will be slightly different from the previous two because this time journalists are allowed to choose their own seats on a first come, first served basis. The earlier ones can sit in front row, closer to the prime minister, and take pictures with him,” he said.

The meeting is expected to host 5,000 people, including 955 reporters for TV and radio stations, 979 for print media and 380 for digital media.

Besides members of the press, 276 representatives from private organisations and 150 of security personnel will also join the crowd. The remaining attendants consist of government officials from various levels.

“This meeting is very important for the journalists and [government] officials to learn and understand each other’s roles and responsibilities,” Sovann said.

Moeun Chhean Nariddh, director of the Cambodian Institute for Media Studies, who will attend the dinner, said the Kingdom’s political situation and freedom for journalists has improved.

He said journalists must adapt to the “Cambodian context” in “upholding international standards to practice independent reporting” he said, adding that the Kingdom “has its unique tradition and culture”.

“We should not report using the American standard, attacking their own government. In Cambodia, we should balance it with positive stories,” Nariddh said.

Speaking to The Post, Koh Kong-based reporter Chhim Makara shared his excitement about attending the meeting, as it would be his first time.

“I think this would be a good opportunity for the journalists and government officials to share experiences and advice with each other."

“And for us [regional reporters] especially, we can share what is going on in the provinces, including the many difficulties we constantly face in obtaining information from corrupt officials and criminal offenders. I ask the government to address these problems,” he said.

The prime minister’s correspondents’ meeting was held for the first time on January 14, 2017, with about 1,400 people attending. The second meeting held on January 21, last year, saw the presence of almost 4,000 participants.