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Phnom Penh Post sold to Malaysian media investor

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Phnom Penh Post sold to Malaysian media investor | The Thaiger
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The Phnom Penh Post has been sold to Sivakumar Ganapathy, a Malaysian investor and executive at a public relations firm that has previously done work for Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government.

Sivakumar, who is the executive director of Malaysia-based Asia PR, said in a press release distributed to staff on Saturday that he intends to maintain the newspaper’s editorial independence.

Editorial staff were informed on Saturday evening that the paper was being sold by Australian mining businessman Bill Clough, who has owned the paper since 2008.

“As representative of the owners of Post Media Ltd, (the Company), which includes Phnom Penh Post and Post Khmer publications, I am pleased to announce that that the Company has been sold to Malaysian investor, Sivakumar G. (Siva),” the press release from Clough reads.

“Siva is a well respected newspaper man, with an experienced journalist background, and represents a strong investment group from Malaysia.”

The sale follows a wrongful termination suit brought by a former CEO and a $3.9 million tax bill levelled by the General Department of Taxation (GDT), which had caused some observers – over the objections of The Post’s management – to compare the situation to the Cambodia Daily.

That publication, the only other independent newspaper in the country, was shuttered after receiving a $6.3 million tax bill in September.

The tax bill had been settled as part of the sale, according to Clough, who thanked the GDT for their professionalism in his press release. Details of the settlement were not given.

No contact information for Sivakumar was provided in the press release, and messages to his Facebook and email accounts went unanswered on Sunday. Calls and emails to Asia PR also went unanswered.

Asia PR’s past clients include “Cambodia and Hun Sen’s entry into the Government seat”, according to their website. They have also represented KFC Holdings Berhad, a branch of the popular fried chicken chain that launched in Cambodia by partnering with politically connected tycoon Kith Meng.

According to Asia PR’s “Track Record” web page, the firm oversaw a signing ceremony that involved Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and then-co-Prime Ministers Hun Sen and Norodom Ranariddh.

In the press release from Sivakumar released on Sunday, the new ownership said it was “fully committed to upholding the paper’s 26 year old legacy and editorial principles/independence without infringing any relevant laws and regulations of the Kingdom of Cambodia”.

Phnom Penh Post sold to Malaysian media investor | News by The Thaiger

Ed Legaspi, executive director at the Southeast Asia Press Alliance (SEAPA), said it was worrisome that The Post’s new owners appeared to be linked to both the Malaysian and Cambodian governments.

“Although ordinarily sales shouldn’t affect editorial policy, we are quite worried this is happening to the Phnom Penh Post,” Legaspi said, adding he thought it was “highly likely” that the ownership would try to affect editorial independence.

“Malaysian media and media owners are not known for independence,” he said.

“The thing to do is for editors to maintain their independence and continue to do the work that you do.

“According to Legaspi, any improper influence over editorial policies at the Phnom Penh Post would be disastrous for the country’s independent media scene.

“We are thinking [The Post] is the last independent outlet in Cambodia,” he said, adding that any editorial influence from the new owners “would really be the death of press freedom in Cambodia”.

Sivakumar studied journalism at university and was also previously the chief operating officer and editor in chief of Malaysian newspaper Eastern Times News, according to his LinkedIn page.

The newspaper was widely viewed to be close to the Sarawak state’s Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud. The Post’s new owner also wrote two books on the life of Taib, including an 650-page authorised biography about the longtime head of Sarawak state titled Taib – The Visionary.

Environmental groups have estimated that Sarawak has lost up to 90 percent of its forest cover under Taib’s tenure. The state leader was described in leaked, classified cables by the United States government as “highly corrupt” and was similarly criticised by Global Witness. A Swiss-based NGO released a lengthy report last year accusing Taib and his family of laundering up to $77 million in Ontario’s property sector. Taib has denied all charges.

Asia PR previously ran the pro-government Cambodia Times newspaper for several years in the Kingdom in the early 1990s. Three separate reports from the 1990s, including one in the Phnom Penh Post, identify NagaCorp CEO Chen Lip Keong as the owner of the Cambodia Times.

An email to two NagaCorp marketing officers asking about the ownership of the Cambodia Times went unanswered on Sunday.The editor in chief of the Cambodia Times was Kamaralzaman Tambu, who was also named as the managing director of Asia PR in a 1995 article in Asian Business. However, Sivakumar did not begin working with Asia PR until 2010, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Phnom Penh Post sold to Malaysian media investor | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation

 

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Crime

Thai actress allegedly tricks Chinese businessman out of 2.5 million baht

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai actress allegedly tricks Chinese businessman out of 2.5 million baht | The Thaiger
PHOTO: INN News

A Thai actress allegedly tricked a Chinese businessman out of 2.5 million baht. Nation Thailand reports the woman worked with a gang to pose as high government officials who could help him with his business dealings.

The businessman made a complaint with police yesterday at the Pak Khlong San Police Station in southern Thailand. The Nation reports he was accompanied by a retired high-ranking police officer. The businessman had a shipment of 3,000 digital thermometers that were delayed at customs and alleges the actress said she could get her “connections” to help.

He paid 2.5 million to get his products through customs. The scammers said 500,000 baht was for the customs department director and 2 million was for officers in interior and agriculture ministries. While the price seemed high and probably illegal, the businessman said he wanted the products shipped in. Nation Thailand says the process normally costs around 100,000 baht.

SOURCE:Nation Thailand

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

South Korea reverses reopening amid new Covid-19 outbreaks

Jack Burton

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South Korea reverses reopening amid new Covid-19 outbreaks | The Thaiger
PHOTO: VOA News

Less than a month after relaxing physical distancing requirements on May 6, South Korea is restoring the measures in the greater Seoul area, including Incheon and Gyeonggi provinces, until at least June 14, as new flare-ups of Covid-19 emerge across the metropolitan region. Its daily tally jumped to 79, the highest since early April.

Making the announcement yesterday, South Korea’s Health Minister said the measures are meant to curb the spread preemptively so in-person classes can resume normally for students. South Korea reported 79 cases in the 24 hours ending midnight Wednesday, the highest single-day daily increase since April 5. Nearly 90% of the new cases were from local transmission, according to health officials.

Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s deputy director said in a briefing yesterday that, as most of the recent patients are young people, none of their cases is severe so far.

“3 weeks since the first case linked to Itaewon nightclubs was discovered earlier this month, the infections have spread mainly via high-risk spaces such as bars, karaoke lounges, restaurants, religious establishments and big workplaces”

At least 7 workers at a call centre in central Seoul have been confirmed with the disease as of yesterday with all of the employees and their contacts undergoing testing. 82 people with ties to a logistics center in Gyeonggi province have tested positive since the first case there was identified on Monday.

The mayor of Bucheon, a satellite city of Seoul, said in-person classes will be suspended again except for high school seniors, and that high-risk communal spaces will be allowed restricted operations only. In a Facebook post yesterday, the mayor cautioned against coronavirus blame game.

“Coronavirus is nobody’s fault, and getting sick is no cause for blame.”

The health minister said in a Central Disaster Management Headquarters meeting Thursday that the lack of safety precautions in the workplace seems attributable for the outbreak at the logistics centre.

“Virus countermeasures such as wearing face masks and taking leave when feeling sick do not appear to be have been followed at the said facilities.”

Health officials launched inspections at logistics facilities across the country after the Bucheon outbreak to locate on Thursday another such centre in Goyang, a city north of Seoul, with an infected employee. The Goyang center has since been shut down.

The KCDC likewise underscored the need for tighter measures to reduce physical contact in workplaces.

“Installing partitions at cafeterias, or stationing desks a safe distance apart from each other are examples of such efforts”

Experts are divided over prospects of the fresh outbreaks evolving into a second wave. An infectious disease expert at Seoul’s Hallym University Hospital said in a Facebook statement that the virus trend appears to be “taking an ominous turn.”

“Had a similar development taken place in fall or winter, I would have said ‘the next wave’ was highly probable. Based on common understanding of respiratory viruses such as the common cold, a cascade of patients such as that witnessed in late February is not likely this time, I would say. But then again, this is an unknown virus that majority of people don’t have immunity against. Nothing can be said with certainty.”

SOURCES: Nation Thailand | Korea Herald

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Environment

90 day deadline for farmers to hand over banned agrochemicals

Jack Burton

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90 day deadline for farmers to hand over banned agrochemicals | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

In the culmination of a long-running feud over hazardous farm chemicals, Thailand’s Department of Agriculture has finally given Thai farmers a 90 day deadline to turn in some herbicides and pesticides for destruction, as they are officially illegal. Manufacturers or importers of the chemicals now banned under Thai law have 270 days to destroy their stocks.

Yesterday’s announcement was in line with the Ministry of Industry’s May 15 decision to place paraquat and chlorpyrifos on the list of hazardous chemicals and ban their use in the kingdom, effective June 1. Farmers in possession of paraquat and chlorpyrifos must return the chemicals to designated shops between June 1 and August 29.

An adviser to the minister to the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives says the ministry has set up a working group on three hazardous agrochemicals, including paraquat, chlorpyrifos and the controversial insecticide glyphosate. Guidelines on how to destroy the chemicals will be publicised at a later date.

Shops assigned to collect the chemicals have 120 days to collect all returned items, and complete documents must also be submitted to the department’s officials.

The shops will also be in charge of sending returned items to manufacturers or importers, who will have 270 days to destroy them. The destruction of the chemicals will be no later later than February 25 next year. They must fill a form to declare the amount returned, set up an eradication plan and submit the results of destruction to the department’s officials. The task of destroying them will not fall to the department.

Any person found in possession of the illegal agrochemicals will be fined 1 million baht and/or jailed for 10 years.

Thai Pesticide Alert Network’s coordinator says the department faces a challenge assembling a task force to create understanding with local farmers on how to deal with the two banned hazardous chemicals. They should be informed on how to drop them at the shops properly and “it would be useful if there are signs to let them know the drop locations.”

“We won’t regard this as a success but it is a step in the right direction for sustainable farming which relies less on chemicals. Thailand wants to be the world’s kitchen and the government must have a clear policy to produce safe food for the world.”

The secretary-general of the Federation of Safe Agriculture, laments that farmers are the ones most affected by the ban, saying even though they spent their own money to buy the chemicals, there is no compensation for them.

SOOURCE: Chiang Rai Times | Bangkok Post

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