The Phnom Penh Post, Cambodia's last independent newspaper, is running on a skeleton staff Tuesday after an editorial walkout stemming from a dispute with the paper's new owners.
Since then the newspaper, once respected for its fearless, independent reporting, has gone into meltdown - the latest unravelling of a prominent media organisation under the watch of Cambodia's increasingly authoritarian premier Hun Sen.
Stuart White, the managing editor; Brendan O'Byrne, the business editor; Jenni Reid, the web editor; and Baliga all refused to comply and resigned.
BANGKOK, May 7 (Reuters) - The purchase of the Phnom Penh Post by a Malaysian whose public relations firm lists Cambodia's long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen as a client is a "disaster" for media freedom ahead of a general election, an global rights group said on Monday.
Kay Kimsong, who had worked at the The Post for 10 years, told The Associated Press that the representative of the newspaper's new owner had told him he made a big mistake by allowing the publication on the front page of the article.
Ganapathy said he would uphold the Post's legacy and editorial independence.
Critics said the loss of an independent press would have profound implications in Cambodia, a country that suffered under the brutal rule of the Khmer Rouge. The Australianmentioned the paper had been "remarkably" free from authorities interference.
Kem Sokha, head of the now dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), was arrested on September 3 amid a crackdown on critics of authoritarian Prime Minister Hun Sen who has ruled the Southeast Asian country for more than 30 years.More news: Boris Johnson attacks 'crazy' customs proposals
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Cambodia has elections in July.
This "cannot be concluded based on what happened between the firm and the client more than 25 years ago", the statement said.
The paper's sale by Australian entrepreneur invoice Clough into Sivakumar Ganapathy, a public relations executive at Malaysia, was announced Sunday.
Invoice Clough, the previous proprietor and writer of the Phnom Penh Put up, mentioned in a video revealed final 12 months that he wished to keep up the paper's independence.
The Post's sale may indicate that Hun Sun's administration has decided that it no longer needs to allow a free media to operate in the country as a concession for getting Western aid, said Shawn Crispin, the Bangkok-based Southeast Asia representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists, a nonpartisan advocacy group based in NY. Under government-related projects on the company's website it lists "Cambodia and Hun Sen's entry into the Government seat".
Huy Vannak, an Interior Ministry official, said that the prime minister was "too busy doing the affairs of the nation" to concern himself with the sale of a newspaper, adding that he was unaware of any prior business relationship between Hun Sen and Sivakumar's company.
She also carried a message from the newspaper's chief executive Marcus Holmes, who has also resigned.
The story was still available on Monday afternoon on the The Post's website.