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Cambodia's Crumbling Democracy

Behind the Growing Repression

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen at a polling station in Kandal province during the 2013 general elections, July 28, 2013. Damir Sagolj / Reuters

In the early hours of September 4, the final edition of Cambodia’s oldest English-language daily rolled off the presses. The Cambodia Daily, founded in 1993, was a respected pillar of the country’s small independent media. True to its slogan—“All the News Without Fear or Favor”—the newspaper had forged a reputation for meticulous reporting and hard-hitting exposés, which belied its unassuming letter-sized format. A month earlier, the Cambodian government, under the long-ruling Prime Minister Hun Sen, had hit the paper’s publishers with a $6.3 million tax bill, ordering them to pay up or “pack up.” They had no choice but to fold.

The paper’s last day coincided with the arrest of the Cambodian opposition leader, Kem Sokha—an incident that made the front cover of the Daily’s final issue. Beneath the oversized headline, “Descent Into Outright Dictatorship,” was a picture of Kem Sokha being taken into

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