>Khieu Kanharith blasts Joel Brinkley’s article on corruption in Cambodia

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Saturday, August 25, 2008

An indignant Khieu Kanharith blasted Joel Brinkley’s article on corruption in Cambodia (Photo: Chantha, Koh Santepheap)

24 August 2008

By L.D. and A.L.G.

Cambodge Soir Hebdo

Translated from French by Luc Sâr

Khieu Kanharith, the government spokesman, called for a press conference in the morning of Sunday 24 August to protest against an article on corruption in Cambodia written by a US reporter.Khieu Kanharith, the minister of Information and government spokesman, accused Joel Brinkley, a Pulitzer prize author, of being “biased” in his article titled: “The world leader in corruption is – Cambodia” published by the “Modesto Bee” in California on 21 August.“Joel Brinkley came to visit me on 14 August to tell me that he wished to write articles on education, the economy, land dispute problems, and the government political vision,” Khieu Kanharith said. “I proposed to him to put him in contact with Say Chhum, the CPP secretary-general, with Im Chhunlim, the minister of Land Management, with Im Sothy, the state secretary of Education, with Chum Bunrong, the spokesman for the National Authority for Resolution of Land Disputes, and with Phay Siphan, the spokesman of the Council of Ministers.”“Joel Brinkley told me that he was Pulitzer prize winner, and that he wished to meet high-ranking VIPs,” Khieu Kanharith claimed. “He considered me as an assistant (level official).”The article – which was posted on KI-Media, a website close to the SRP [KI-Media note: KI-Media is not affiliated with the SRP]– cited the “Phnom Penh Post” article about the accident involving Hun Chea, Hun Sen’s nephew, in which a motorcycle driver was killed.According to the “Phnom Penh Post,” the victim’s family would have received $4,000 in exchange for their silence, and the military police supported Hun Chea’s version.Joel Brinkley’s article also cited Joseph Mussomeli, the US Ambassador to Cambodia, as saying “This goes to the whole culture of impunity here. Who you are, who you know, is more important than following the law.”Joel Brinkley, who received the Pulitzer prize for reporting overseas in 1980 and publishing several articles on Cambodia, wrote “I have worked in many corrupt states – Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, among others. But in none of them is the corruption so pervasive, even pandemic.”During the press conference, Khieu Kanharith rejected the information published by the Phnom Penh Post and he indicated that the accident involving Hun Sen’s nephew was “a private affair.”When asked whether he would ask for an entry ban to Cambodia for Joel Brinkley, Khieu Kanharith answered: “the journalist could return to Cambodia whenever he wishes.”
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