Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ByteMe



This week, the Asian Development Bank embarked on the most tedious hour of interaction ever visited upon the internet.

Via Twitter and an online chat forum, the organisation invited the public to ask its experts questions on trade, financial markets and geopolitical concerns.

It took a full 11 minutes to answer the first question, inquiring after the possibility of an Asian single currency. After an interminable pause, during which one could imagine the wonks feverishly crafting and redrafting their 140 character response, their conclusion, unsurprisingly, was an unequivocal “hell no, no way, not any time soon.”

After more turgid inquiries about food prices and the risk of contagion from the European crisis, as well as speculation about the future of ASEAN, it became clear that the cyber-participants were not young, interested global citizens, but professionals with a deep professional interest in the ideas of the ADB.

Our eager experts at the ADB were not busy inspiring a new generation of budding economists; they were wasting time preaching to the converted.

Once again, a half-baked PR stunt orchestrated to help make an organisation seem in-touch and modern ends up looking lame and inane.

What is it with these institutions? To connect meaningfully with the public, more is required than fumblingly logging into Twitter.

If such attempts at communicating aren’t simply ignored by the target audience, they’re roundly ridiculed by said tech-savvy youngsters, as the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, found out to his cost last week.

His monthly Twitter Q&A was hijacked by thousands of wondrously comedic spammers, who eschewed such issues as the upcoming Olympics, London’s decrepit transport system or the astronomical cost of housing in the capital, and went straight for the jugular.

“Which would you prefer? To be attacked by a dozen duck sized horses or attacked by one horse sized duck?” asked one Twitter wit. “Did you ever get ‘crumpeted’ at Eton? Did it make your eyes water?” inquired another.

“How many malteasers can you fit in your mouth at one time?”

“Should the descriptor “hot” be standardised across all chilli-based sauces?”

“Have you ever completed the arcade version of Sega Rally?”

Sadly, Boris dodged these entertaining queries, just as he avoided the few detailed and serious questions about the big issues facing Londoners. The general consensus among followers after the event was that the whole affair was a charade, set up to create a mere illusion of accessibility and transparency.

There are lessons that were hopefully learned by Boris, the ADB and all those watching last week: using a youthful and widely used medium doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be able to effectively communicate with a wide audience of young people about the issues that you want to talk about.

It’s the equivalent of interrupting play the Superbowl with a megaphone to talk about the latest classical album from the Berlin Philharmonic. There’s a time and a place for political and intellectual interaction and unless you’re seriously savvy, Twitter isn’t it.


  • South Korea’s first lady brings hope to ill boy

    South Korea’s first lady Kim Keon-hee – wife of current president of the Republic of Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol – met with a 14-year-boy with congenital heart disease during her trip to the Kingdom for the ASEAN Summit. After their meeting it was announced that the

  • Hun Sen gets Covid, shuns G20, APEC summits

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said he has tested positive for Covid-19 in Indonesia, where he is slated to attend the G20 summit in his capacity of the ASEAN chair. In a social media post addressing the Cambodian public, he said: “Before leaving Cambodia, I always

  • Moody’s sets outlook rating to ‘negative’ for Cambodia

    US global rating agency Moody’s Investors Service Inc on November 15 announced that it downgraded Cambodia’s outlook from “stable” to “negative” and maintained its B2 local and foreign currency issuer ratings. “The negative outlook reflects a deteriorating external position as illustrated by the severe

  • Hun Sen’s Covid infection caused by ‘weakened antibody’ after summit

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said exhaustion from heavy workload before and during the recent ASEAN Summit may have led to him contracting Covid-19 due to his weakened immune system, while rejecting speculations that the infection was caused by leaders of some countries who did not

  • Korean first lady paves way for ill boy’s surgery

    A 14-year-old boy with congenital heart disease who was lucky enough to meet with South Korean first lady Kim Keon-hee may get the chance of a lifetime and receive surgery and treatment at Asan Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea. After seeing his plight, many

  • Kingdom’s rice crowned world’s No1

    Cambodia’s Phka Rumduol jasmine variety has been crowned the World’s Best Rice for the fifth time at the TRT (The Rice Trader) World Rice Conference in Phuket, Thailand on November 17, according to leaders of the Kingdom’s apex rice industry body. Phka Rumduol