Cambodia and the state of press freedom in southeast Asia

Sunday is election day in Cambodia, but it didn’t really feel like campaign season when I spent a week there earlier this month. That’s in large part because there is next to no independent media remaining in the country to cover the election.

But the descent was rapid: beginning last August, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government shut down more than 30 radio stations, delivered a tax bill to one of the English-language dailies that forced it to shut down, and dissolved the main opposition party. The other major English-language newspaper was bought earlier this year by a Malaysian businessman with ties to the Cambodian government, and now reporters’ stories get spiked or edited to toe the company line.

Reporting across southeast Asia for a month showed me how lucky I am to live and report in Germany; though reporters face challenges across the globe these days, journalists in southeast Asia have it especially tough.

My piece from Phnom Penh, which also includes reporting from my time in Malaysia and the Philippines, is up with The Atlantic today. Read it here.

A billboard for Hun Sen’s Cambodia People’s Party (CPP) in Phnom Penh, one of many on display across the country