And so it has happened. Less than 100 days into his presidency, Donald Trump is being cited by a corrupt and despotic regime to justify new restrictions on rights and freedoms. On Saturday, Cambodia’s council of ministers spokesman Phay Siphan vowed to “crush” media entities that endanger the “peace and security” of the kingdom, calling on all “foreign agents” to self-censor or be shut down. He justified this threat by citing Trump’s recent expulsion of critical media outlets from a White House briefing (Report, 25 January).
“Donald Trump’s ban of international media giants … sends a clear message that President Trump sees that news published by those media institutions does not reflect the real situation,” the Phnom Penh Post quoted the spokesman as saying. “Freedom of expression must be located within the domain of the law and take into consideration national interests and peace. The president’s decision has nothing to do with democracy or freedom of expression.”
This comes in the wake of a new wave of human rights violations by Cambodia (including the murder of a prominent government critic, Kem Ley, and a new law designed to dismantle opposition parties) in the run-up to local and national elections.
Such comments demonstrate how President Trump’s careless rhetoric and narcissistic acts can be used by despotic regimes across the globe to justify human rights violations.
Global Diligence LLP
• I read Carl Cederström’s piece (It’s not just lies: Trump wills his truth into our reality, 27 February) with particular interest. I had only just watched David Hare and Mick Jackson’s Denial, following Peter Bradshaw’s reputational rescue of the film in his review (G2, 27 January), as having “overwhelming relevance”. It seems particularly apt to Cederström’s point.
In the film, at the end of the long trial, the judge pulls out the question – and I paraphrase – “What if David Irving believed all these egregious untruths – would he still be a mendacious liar?” The precise reason why he was able to dismiss his own question was not quoted. But it is a matter of historical record that the judge found for the defendants and stated that “for his own ideological reasons [the holocaust denier] persistently and deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence”.
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