More than 12 months after the opposition was hit with repeated leaked audio recordings, a new Facebook page dubbed “Thleay” seems to have trained its sights on Prime Minister Hun Sen and his family, releasing purported text messages, personal pictures and government documents over the last month.
The month-old Facebook page, which translates to “leaks” in Khmer, has been posting official government documents and intimate pictures of the Hun family, especially daughters Hun Maly and Hun Mana, as well as the premier’s nephew, Hun To.
In the latest leak, Thleay released three letters yesterday, purportedly from different businesspeople, requesting Hun Sen’s approval for setting up casinos across the country. A Ministry of Economy and Finance official later confirmed he was aware of one of the requests referred to in the documents, and said they appeared to follow standard procedure for requesting permission to set up a casino, which entails first asking the Council of Ministers.
In March, what seems to have been the same leaker released private text messages from members of Hun Sen’s immediate family – some of them verified by The Post – suggesting questionable dealings between Cambodia’s political and business elites.
These pointed leaks mirror those by the “Seiha” Facebook page, which has consistently targeted the Cambodia National Rescue Party through the release of recorded private phone conversations, some alleging extra-marital affairs and illegal activities like gambling.
A similar release by another Facebook page, called “Truth of the CNRP”, of unverified recordings between CNRP president Kem Sokha and an alleged mistress led to a frenzied government investigation into the opposition leader, who holed up at party offices for more than six months to avoid arrest. He was ultimately given a five-month sentence for refusing to appear before court, but was later pardoned.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan was apparently unperturbed by the recent leaks, calling them a normal election-related phenomenon and pointing the finger at the opposition.
“This is the opposition because they never praise the ruling party,” he said. “We do not pay attention to it and people do not pay attention to Facebook [leaks] anymore because most of them are faked.”
Opposition members Yim Sovann, Mu Sochua and Eng Chhay Eang could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said he was unaware of the Thleay leaks but would ask officials at the ministry to look into the matter.
Y Sokhy, chief of the Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Terrorism Department, said he was also unaware of the leaks and that the subject did not fall under his jurisdiction. However, last year the same department was at the centre of the investigations into Sokha’s alleged sex scandal – again based on leaked phone recordings.
Cham Bunthet, political commentator and an adviser to the Grassroots Democratic Party, said leaks have become part and parcel of Cambodian politics, but the recent leaks were setting up a complicated game that was both immoral and unlawful.
While each side was garnering political brownie points depending on which party the leaks targeted, Bunthet said the larger issue was the repeated breach of privacy, which was an issue for the government to tackle irrespective of who it affected.
“Once it is beneficial for them [ruling party], they will keep silent,” he said. “But if it is beneficial to the opposition party they will not like it.”