Cambodia’s recent elections and subsequent protests have demonstrated Twitter’s strength in distributing breaking news and information during fast-evolving events. Will Jackson lists the country’s top Tweeps.
Without independent English-language television or radio stations, Twitter has proven an excellent way to keep track of what’s going on with updates on traffic snarls, protest locations, results of party talks, crowd numbers, casualties and more.
The trick to Twitter is knowing who to follow. Here are 20 top current-affairs tweeters, excluding the main news organisations.
Alex Higgins: @Sokunroth
Alex Higgins (aka Sek Sokunroth) is a community and media monitor for NGO Licadho and one of the most frequent tweeters on human rights issues in Cambodia. He’s effectively the Twitter mouthpiece for Licadho’s ever-present army of human rights monitors, and so one of the best Twitter accounts to follow for first-hand information rather than links to media reports. Licadho’s official Twitter accountis @licadho.
Ruom Collective: @RuomCollective
Freelance photographers Nicolas Axelrod (@NickAxelrod) and Thomas Cristofoletti (@TCristofoletti) are always right in there amidst the action and have produced some of the most stunning imagery of the election protests so far. Cristofoletti, who was meters away when Mao Sok Chan was shot and killed at Kbal Thnal, was first to tweet confirmation of the post-election strife’s first fatality. Although not a member of Ruom, Omar Havana (@OmarHavana) is another good photographer to follow.
Rachana Bunn: @rachanabunn
Outspoken in her political views, human rights monitor and trainer and feminist Rachana Bunn is also great to follow for her take on Cambodian cultural and social issues. Also worth checking out is her blog Khmer Heart (http://behdoungkhmer.blogspot.com/) where she delves into issues more deeply.
Hun Sen’s Eye: @HunSensEye
Sharp as razor wire, spoof Twitter handle Hun Sen’s Eye serves up a stream of politically aware satire slathered in a heavy layer of sedition. None across Cambodia’s political sphere are spared as the eye riffs on land-grabbing, human rights abuses, KTVs and Johnny Walker. An absolute must-follow.
Khieu Kanharith: @KanharithKhieu
Information Minister Khieu Kanharith is worth following for the occasional useful government announcement, usually linking to the official Agence Kampuchea Presse. He’s also quite keen on tweeting links to world current affairs articles and pop culture.
John Vink: @vinkjohn
Veteran photographer John Vink – a contributor to the prestigious Magnum photo agency – is a long-time Cambodia resident and another great follow for on the scene reports and beautiful photography. His images during the protests have strikingly captured the human element, bringing the mass action back down to an individual perspective.
Sochua Mu: @MuSochua
The opposition CNRP has surprisingly little representation on Twitter with stalwart lawmaker Mu Sochua the only member of the leadership team that tweets regularly. During the election and protests, Sochua has provided an insider’s perspective tweeting updates on the CNRP’s plans along with on the spot pics and links to posts on her blog.
Sonny Le: @sonnylebythebay
US-based communications consultant and blogger Sonny Le’s childhood growing up near the border with Cambodia gives him an interesting perspective on socio-political developments in the Kingdom. His Twitter commentary has an understandable emphasis on the experience of ethnic Vietnamese living in Cambodia grounded in a solid understanding of the two countries’ history.
KRT Trial Monitor: @KRT_Monitor
The Twitter feed of the Asian International Justice Initiative Khmer Rouge Tribunal trial monitors provides real-time updates on hearings at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. Especially interesting with closing arguments of case 002/01 about to begin.
Ou Ritthy: @ritthyou
Cambodian political blogger Ou Ritthy is never short of an opinion and always happy to give either side of politics both barrels. Along with irreverent political perspectives he tweets translated updates from Cambodian mainstream media coverage and of political party statements, useful for those who don’t speak Khmer.
Luke Hunt: @lukeanthonyhunt
Veteran freelance journo Luke Hunt provides a wider South-East Asian perspective on current events. He’s pretty outspoken in his commentary and tweets from a wide variety of sources, including first hand reports and political perspectives. He tweets translated updates from Cambodian mainstream media coverage and political party statements, useful for those who don’t speak Khmer.
Irwin Loy: @illied
Phnom Penh-based freelance journalist Irwin Loy is worth following for entertainment value alone. His pithy, tongue-in-cheek coverage of events is genuinely entertaining. His “protestagrams” and Hungry for Democracy photo series are great too.
Casey Nelson: @LTO_cambodia
Casey Nelson is a long-term Cambodia resident with a reputation for making considered and well-informed observations. While anonymous (Casey Nelson is a pseudonym), he has managed to amass more than 2,400 followers. Rely on him for on-the-ground reports (he usually gets around by walking) on everything from army deployments to the weather.
A freelance writer, digital consultant and blogger, Kounila Keo is one of the most prominent faces of Cambodia’s young digital revolutionaries. She’s been quoted on Cambodian social and traditional media issues and trends and is a strong voice for Cambodian youth writing on Twitter, her Blue Lady Blog and in newspaper opinion pages.
Ostensibly a tourism-focused Twitter account, Cambopedia is one of the most opinionated and prolific tweeters in the country. Be prepared for a deluge of tweets, but you won’t miss out.
ADHOC, one of Cambodia’s leading human rights NGOs, only recently got into the Twitter game in a serious way but they have been making up with a flurry of tweets linking to their own and others’ reports and news, plus some on-the-ground observations and pictures.
Tharum Bun: @tharum
Digital media specialist Tharum Bun has been blogging since 2004, and his Twitter stream tends to have a tech/IT focus as well as politics and culture. He also occasionally tweets haikus.
Clothilde Le Coz: @CloLeCoz
Clothilde Le Coz is a freelance journalist who regularly writes for the French language Le Petit Journal and in English for AsianCorrespondent’s KhmerBits blog. She tweets frequently on politics, human rights and media freedom issues in Cambodia.
Santel PHIN: @khmerbird
One of Cambodia’s most experienced bloggers, the founder of Khmerbird Santel Phin, makes it his mission to spread information about the goings on in the Kingdom. With more than 8,500 followers, if you want to get the word out, he’s a good man to know.
Sopheak SREY: @sopheaksrey
Until recently a media officer for the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, Sopheak Srey still seems to have good NGO and political contacts and tends to tweet information gathered first-hand rather than others’ links.
Neilly Din: @NeillyDin
A young international relations student, part-time blogger and self-described independent political analyst, Neilly provides a welcome alternative perspective to the discourse on Twitter and her new blog.
Robert Carmichael: @Carmichael_Rob
If you followed no one else but the South African foreign correspondent, former Phnom Penh Post editor and author Robert Carmichael, you wouldn’t miss too much. Carmichael retweets most of the more interesting links and comments plus contributes his own views, on -scene observations and links to interesting material.
Watching Cambodia: @EyeOnCambodia
A bunch of Twitter aggregators retweet pretty much anything that mentions Cambodia, however Watching Cambodia has a focus specifically on politics, human rights and “peacebuilding”. Having amassed more than 5000 followers, the Twitter account (curated by human rights lawyer @CatherineMorris) also makes for a good amplifier.
Chan Thul Prak: @prakchanthul
Cambodian Reuters correspondent, Chan Thul Prak provides up to date pictures, first-hand observations and news links without any fluff. You won’t have to worry about him filling up your Twitter feed with breakfast Instagrams or football results.
Virak Ou: @ouvirak
Prominent activist Ou Virak is the president of the independent Cambodian Center for Human Rights, and is a big advocate of freedom of expression and highly critical of both major parties. He mainly tweets links to updates on his Facebook page – the comments sections make for interesting reading.