Hun Sen praises Trump’s Fake News Awards
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Hun Sen praises Trump’s Fake News Awards

CAMBODIA’S Prime Minister has praised US President Donald Trump’s so-called Fake News Awards, during a government-hosted dinner for correspondents on Sunday.

The PM – who has ruled for more than 33 years and recently ordered the dissolution of Cambodia’s primary opposition party – regularly accuses independent media outlets of spreading “fake news”, an epithet famously coined by Trump.

The English-language Cambodia Daily newspaper shut last year after it was handed a US$6.3 million tax bill which its publishers said was politically motivated. It was one of the few remaining independent newspapers left in the country.

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A further 18 independent radio stations have been stopped from broadcasting.

Hun Sen referred to an announcement by Trump this month that he would hand out awards for what he calls “fake news”. Trump often uses the term “fake news” to cast doubt on reports critical of him or his administration.

“I think President Donald Trump has correctly created an award that he just announced in recent days, the Fake News Award,” he said. “And in Cambodia, there is also this type of media.”

At the dinner, the second state dinner he has hosted for journalists, Hun Sen also accused some reporters of extorting money from loggers.

Illegal exports of timber from Cambodia to Vietnam are a sensitive and politically charged issue in Cambodia which is seeing rapid deforestation. Hun Sen has called for a bigger effort to curb illegal logging and the country has a long-standing ban on log exports.

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“We must not let it continue to exist, this media that acts as a mafia,” Hun Sen told the gathering of over 3,000 journalists and media officials.

He also singled out, but did not identify, a news organisation for refusing to pay taxes. “They don’t respect laws, they are not registered by law and they avoid paying taxes,” Hun Sen said.

Additional reporting from Reuters