The prime minister yesterday denied accusations he has bought “likes” to bolster his social media profile, a week after the Post revealed the majority of new fans of his Facebook page were from abroad, including more than 250,000 from India.
Speaking at a university graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh, the premier addressed the issue directly for the first time. “How I am supposed to know where those ‘likes’ originate from?” he said, before implying he didn’t have the means to buy likes from abroad.
“If I could buy likes from India, I must be really strong, but I am just happy that I, Hun Sen, have been recognised by Indian people and people in other countries as the prime minister of Cambodia.”
He continued: “Cambodians nationwide are focused on the Cambodian prime minister, and now foreigners pay more attention to me and click “Like”, so why don’t you welcome this? Or are your only happy when people curse Hun Sen?”
He also took at shot at his political and social media rival, CNRP president Sam Rainsy, who has accused him of buying likes.
“The president, prisoner, calm down; you lost, and why don’t you accept the loss,” he told the crowd, after declaring he wasn’t on Facebook to compete. “[Rainsy] filed a complaint against the National Election Committee [about irregularities in the 2013 election] and soon he may curse Facebook.”
Via email, Rainsy hit back. “As sure as his ‘outstanding’ Facebook performances were due to cheating (fake likes), his last election ‘victory’ can also be attributable, without any doubt, to cheating (fake votes and/or fake data),” he said.
Cambodians currently make up 56.3 per cent of the premier’s Facebook fans, according to data from socialbakers.com.The total number of likes from India and the Philippines now exceeds half a million.