“Tommy Angkor II”, a Facebook user being sought by authorities over a video posted last week in which he alleged that officials sold Battambang’s Kamping Puoy reservoir, yesterday backed off those claims.
“I don’t know what the truth is or not,” in relation to the alleged sale, he said yesterday in a phone interview.
“I wanted to make the video because people in the area are scared to [come forward about the issue]. If they show their face, they will face problems in the future,” said the 32-year-old, who declined to give his real name due to the pending case. “I just passed the word from the villagers that told me.”
Asked what evidence prompted the claim, Tommy said villagers told him “they saw Chinese people, then Korean people”, but did not elaborate further other than to say a few friends told him as well. “I don’t ask; people are afraid to provide the information.”
Tommy, who is a resident of Phnom Penh, went on to appeal to authorities that it was not his intent to defame. “I didn’t intend to say something bad about the government. I didn’t say who sold it; I didn’t destroy anybody’s name,” he said. “If I said something wrong to the government, please forgive me.”
In a letter dated May 23, the Battambang Provincial Department of Water Resources and Meteorology appealed to provincial authorities to seek the Facebook user’s arrest for defaming the government.
“Tommy Angkor II exaggerates or distorts the facts and makes the public confused about the selling of the reservoir,” the letter reads.
“The accusation from Tommy Angkor II badly affects the government’s reputation and dignity.”
Officials from the department could not be reached yesterday.
The video, which has been reposted since being taken down, shows Tommy at times speaking angrily, biting his lower lip.
“Vendors told me that the Kamping Puoy reservoir was sold on the pretense of a 99-year concession,” he says. “When I know that, I do feel wonder that those officials are useless,” he says before going on to accuse them of acting out of greed. “Your bellies are full from selling [the reservoir]? . . . What about the people who depend on the reservoir for farming?”
“I am angry,” he says before invoking a Cambodian curse. “You are salt exposed to water.”
Heng Say Hong, Battambang provincial investigator for Licadho, yesterday confirmed that Tommy called asking for help on Wednesday. Hong said a face-to-face meeting would have to take place for the group to intervene officially.
“We don’t know yet whether [the authorities] will take legal action against him. Sometimes they just complain,” he said.
Provincial police could not be reached for comment as to whether they were pursuing the water department’s call for Tommy’s arrest.