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What’s happening at the Khmer Times?

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Writing in Asia Times last year about the state of Cambodia’s media (“A bad day all around for Cambodian media,” published July 2019), I opined: “If the relationship of a journalist to politicians is supposed to be that of a dog to lampposts, as one saying goes, or either at their throat or at their feet, according to another, then Cambodia’s media today are retentive and supine.”

Fitting this summation perfectly is Khmer Times, an English-language daily that heaps praise on Cambodia’s autocratic ruling party and scorn on the party’s critics, and has a long history in the not-so-subtle art of plagiarism. (It’s still amusing that this newspaper is owned by a parent company called Virtus Media.)

Just last week, its worn-down “Ctrl-C” and “Ctrl-V” buttons were harassed again when the newspaper reprinted, word by word and without proper citation, an article that was published the previous day in the German news outlet DW, written by Ate Hoekstra, with additional reporting by Yon Sineat. (Try spotting the difference between the original and reprint.)

After publication of an earlier version of this article, Asia Times was told that Khmer Times has an agreement to exchange articles with DW, but it is uncertain about how resourced articles should be cited.

Hoekstra told me, “KT did not reach out to us when they copy-pasted the article to their website. The editor-in-chief only informed us about an exchange agreement with DW after we specifically asked about it.”

Indeed, several other journalists have accused the newspaper of copy-and-pasting articles without citation in recent months (and presumably without compensation). But it’s a historic vice; Khmer Times has long been dogged by plagiarism. From its beginning, it was occasionally accused of plagiarizing articles published by other English-language newspapers in Cambodia.

Its publisher, Malaysian businessman Mohan Tirvgmanasam Banddam (better known as T Mohan), often copy-and-pasted text from other outlets when writing his editorials. After numerous complaints about this, a Khmer Times announcement in early 2016 said an internal review had found “sufficient evidence” that the allegations of plagiarism were true and the publisher, Mohan, “no longer manages or contributes to the editorial page and has expressed profound regret.”

Alas, that did not put an end to the rumors. Later, it was alleged that the newspaper’s published letters from the public were written internally, possibly by Mohan. Allegations suggest the newspaper uses fake names for its letters’ authors.



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