A newspaper is sold and Cambodians fear the end of press freedom

Cambodia's Phnom Penh Post sold to Malaysian businessman with ties to Prime Minister Hun Sen

Since then the newspaper, once respected for its fearless, independent reporting, has gone into meltdown - the latest unravelling of a prominent media organisation under the watch of Cambodia's increasingly authoritarian premier Hun Sen.

One journalist at the Post tweeted that the new editor-in-chief "asked staff what to do this morning in order to put out English language edition".

All stories must now be approved by Purushotman in what critics of the sale, and subsequent events, have said is a further worrying sign that the Post's independent voice has been silenced.

The sale of the Phnom Penh Post has been seen by many as the latest blow to media freedom in the country, with the paper's main English-language rival the Cambodia Daily being shut down past year after it was hit with a giant tax bill.

Mr Sivakumar had pledged on Saturday to maintain the 26-year-old newspaper's editorial independence but apparently objected to an article by the Post's own journalists that claimed that his public relations firm, Asia PR, listed past clients as Hun Sen, the current prime minister.

A story on the Phnom Penh Post website said the sale followed a wrongful termination suit brought by a former chief executive and a US$3.9 million tax bill from the government. "I didn't feel like I could do that in good conscience, so I resigned immediately".

In a video uploaded by The Phnom Penh Post past year, Clough said that the newspaper's independence and loyal following were its "major distinguishing factor" and that his staff was "remarkably free" from government interference.

Dozens of staffers on the newspaper issued their very own assertion on Monday in protest: "We ... condemn our new proprietor's calls for to take down right now's entrance web page article", they wrote.

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In a statement, Sivakumar blasted The Post's editorial staff as "careless and vicious" and called the article a "disgrace", adding that it "smells of malice".

Among Sivakumar's complaints against the article were that the reporters forgot to publish his middle initial and that they identified him as "an executive" and "executive director" of Asia PRrather than CEO and managing director.

Rights groups say the legal woes are linked to Hun Sen, who is clearing the board of all potential opposition ahead of elections in July.

Daniel Bastard, head of the Asia-Pacific desk of Reporters Without Borders, expressed his solidarity with the Post's journalists.

"I am devastated at the prospect of not being able to work every day with some of best journalists I know".

Last year, the leader of the largest opposition party was arrested on charges of treason and the party was later forced to dissolve.

Since launching in January 2007, the Cambodia-based Southeast Asia Globe has sought to "engage our readers through reports that dig deeper and stories that inspire".

The events came weeks after Cambodia dropped 10 places in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index prompting wide concern about the state of freedom of speech in the country.

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