Cambodia bans textbooks critical of PM

July 14th, 2010 - 2:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Phnom Penh, July 14 (DPA) The Cambodian government banned two books from schools nationwide after finding the text critical of Prime Minister Hun Sen and the ruling party, local media said Wednesday.
Education Minister Im Sethy said the general knowledge textbooks, which use a question-and-answer format, were no more than political leaflets and should be removed from schools immediately, the Phnom Penh Post newspaper reported.

One question deemed offensive asked whether Cambodia would be able to develop in the near future.

The suggested answer from author Pen Puthsphea in the Khmer-language text was that Cambodia would not because “corruption occurs from the top level of the government down to the local level, and law enforcement and the practice of human rights are still below zero”.

Pen Puthsphea denied his printed answers were critical of the ruling party and the prime minister.

“I have just responded to the real situation by including both pro and con ideas that are only my own answers to the questions,” he said, adding that the timing of the ban was odd because the books have been available for four years.

He said the ministry’s move infringes on the right to publish and the right to express ideas, both of which the government has guaranteed.

The information ministry was to carry out the order and remove the books, a senior official from the education ministry said.

Over the past 18 months, the government has grown increasingly intolerant of criticism by its perceived opponents in politics, the media and civil society.

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