An edition of the BBC’s Crossing Continents with the title ‘Cambodia: Country for Sale‘ has prompted a letter from the UK’s Ambassador of Cambodia, who wrote last week that “reporter Mukul Devichand appeared to be pursuing a very clear agenda; the intention being to discredit the Royal Government of Cambodia and sully its reputation.”
Ambassador Hor Nambora’s letter came just a day after the BBC radio documentary series ran the story that explains “why global investors are suddenly fighting to snap up cheap fertile paddy fields from poor villagers, who claim they are being exploited and intimidated.”
Crossing Continents reporter Mukul Devichand reported:
Journalistically, this is the most difficult part of the assignment. While there are no end of non-governmental organisations eager to take us to villages where they claim there was wrongdoing, the business community – perhaps understandably – are wary of foreign reporters.
In the 13-January response to the BBC Radio 4 Controller Gwyneth Williams, the Cambodian envoy said
In his article to complement the programme which appeared on several BBC websites, Mr Devichand’s argument that Cambodia is a “Country for Sale” seemed to bear an uncomfortable similarity to the ferocious and malicious allegations made against the Cambodian Government in recent years by the international pressure group, Global Witness.
The Phnom Penh Post also has the story: Cambodian envoy raps BBC report
The Cambodian Ambassador’s comments are just the latest in a long series of attacks against Global Witness and the BBC. In 2009 he derided a BBC report on land disputes as “extremely one-sided”, and has lobbed similar criticisms at journalists from The Guardian and The Financial Times.
A Wikipedia entry says Crossing Continents is “a half-hour BBC Radio 4 documentary programme, focusing on foreign affairs issues through on-location journalism and interviews from various parts of the world.”
In Croatia, the programme was heavily criticised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, the Prime Minister and the President claiming that the programme’s reporter was biased and presented the country focused on a couple of incidents which cannot represent the safety conditions for the whole nation as well as tourists.