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Journalists Obstructed Covering Events in Cambodia and Indonesia

Journalists Obstructed Covering Events in Cambodia and Indonesia

PHNOMPENH, LELEMUKU.COM - Journalists covering two major international events in Cambodia and Indonesia this week have been obstructed from their work.

A producer for the U.S. news outlet ABC News was pushed when she tried to ask a question during President Joe Biden’s meeting with China’s leader Xi Jinping.

Separately, journalists from the Voice of America (VOA) and Voice of Democracy (VOD) were denied access to a press conference by Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen during the ASEAN summit being hosted in the country.

White House pool reporter Molly Nagle, of ABC News, on Monday was part of the small media group covering the start of President’s meeting with Xi.

During a break, Nagle called out a question directed at Biden, asking if he would include rights issues during the meetings.

But an unidentified person believed to be part of the Chinese delegation pulled the journalist backwards so that she momentarily lost her balance.

The man, described as wearing a face mask with a Chinese flag on it, then pushed her toward the door, according to Agence France-Presse.

The AFP reports that two White House staff members intervened, saying the producer should be left alone.

VOA emailed the spokesperson for China’s Washington embassy for comment but did not receive a response.

Separately in Cambodia on Sunday, journalists from VOA’s Khmer service and the independent broadcaster VOD were denied access to a Hun Sen press conference.

Both media outlets had registered to cover the post-ASEAN summit press conference at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, but were not given passes.

The Cambodian Center for Independent Media, the Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association and the Overseas Press Club of Cambodia have jointly called on Cambodia’s Ministry of Information to clarify why the journalists were denied entry.

“Since the prime minister welcomed questions from the media, we would like to know why journalists from VOD and VOA were not welcome to ask questions,” read the joint statement published Monday.

The media associations called on the ministry to “explain this apparent discrimination against journalists from certain news outlets.”

According to the group, two members of the Ministry of Information’s press staff said their supervisor would not allow VOD and VOA journalists to attend the conference with Hun Sen.

Pa Sokheng, a reporter for VOD whose application was not granted, expressed “deep disappointment” and said there should be no discrimination and restrictions on media outlets.

"Banning journalists to listen and ask questions … shows that the state is trying to hide any loopholes of society development rather than finding a solution,” she told VOA Khmer.

Ith Sothoeuth, media director at the Cambodian Center for Independent Media, said allowing some media to attend but not others “shows the unequal treatment of journalists.”

A spokesperson for VOA’s public relations department described the block on its journalists and others as “deeply concerning.”

“These actions by Cambodian officials are in direct opposition to the values of democratic societies,” VOA’s spokesperson said via email. “We stand with our audience in Cambodia, and we will continue to offer them accurate, balanced and comprehensive journalism in English and in the Khmer language.”

Phos Sovann, a spokesperson for Cambodia’s Information Ministry, said the prime minister’s office’s protocol doesn’t allow for VOA and VOD reporters to cover Hun Sen’s event.

The reason, the spokesperson said, is because the two media outlets do not run the leader’s speech in full. That approach, the spokesperson said, causes confusion.

Hun Sen’s speeches and events are usually broadcast on Facebook Live but for this event, journalists needed a pass to attend.

The ministry spokesperson rejected concerns at apparent discrimination, saying that only two media outlets are blocked and that “several others are allowed.”

In ABC reporter Nagle’s case in Indonesia, the White House pool reporter documented the incident in her report.

“I was pulled backwards by my backpack as I shouted, by a member of the Chinese group,” she wrote. “I stumbled back and then was pushed toward the door, knocking me off my balance. (Lors Liblib / Sun Narin | VOA)

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