Following up its series of town hall meetings with Cambodian journalists in July, SEAPA and its Phnom Penh-based partner, Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM), continued their collaboration in organizing series of activities related to the election coverage. A Reflection Forum on media coverage for the Cambodian 2013 elections was conducted in in Siem Reap on 8 October, and a workshop on post-election was held the next day.
Some 32 participants from Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and other provinces listened to three speakers – Mr Koul Panha of COMFREL, Mr Moeun Chhean Nariddh of Cambodia Institute for Media Studies (CIMS), and independent researcher Mr Kem Ley – share their observations on the 28 July National Assembly elections that has resulted in an ongoing political dispute.
Koul Panha and Kem Ley highlighted irregularities during the election, particularly in connection with the use of media. Panha noted the absence of equal access and use of broadcast media, with excessive airtime in favor of the ruling party.
Kem Ley meanwhile noted the high level of youth participation during the election and the willingness of citizens to speak openly.
Narridh added that “pro-government newspapers, radio and TV stations had continued their entrenched policy of media blackout of the opposition rallies, including the return of opposition leader Sam Rainsy from abroad.”
On another note, Narridh found the need to enhance journalists’ skills in election reporting the election.
Forum participants shared their experiences on obstacles they encountered during election coverage and also ways they overcame these. However, discussions focused on the political deadlock following the elections which saw the opposition win an unprecedented number of seats and raising allegations of widespread cheating that has cast a shadow on the credibility of the ruling party victory.
Participants also formulated a joint statement that was released to the media.
The following day, 15 journalists, including broadcasters, bloggers and netizens participated in a workshop on post-election coverage facilitated Nariddh.
During the workshop learned and practiced skills necessary to address important issues during the post-election period. Participants also formulated an action plan for implementation after the workshop.