The government has issued a directive banning the selling of alcoholic drinks over the two days ending June 5, the day of the commune council elections.
The directive – signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 20 – said the move would help ensure that the election process is free, fair and genuine, and without violence, threat, fear or chaos, which it said could be compromised by alcohol consumption.
It continued that alcohol consumption significantly increases the risk of certain crimes, public order breaches, violent behaviour, traffic accidents and other social consequences.
“All Cambodians and foreigners residing in Cambodia must cooperate with the government, armed forces, sub-national administrations at all levels, the National Election Committee [NEC] and election committees at all levels. All traders and vendors have to suspend sales of alcoholic drinks on June 4-5,” it said.
The government ordered ministries, institutions, military and National Police, and sub-national authorities to oversee the implementation of the instruction, adding that the Ministry of Information must work with the NEC to communicate its message to the people and ensure that the orders are effectively carried out.
The NEC has also asked the apex law enforcement agency to work with it and ensure that legal action is taken against fake news or perceived incitement in the run-up to the elections.
This is according to a letter from NEC secretary-general Tep Nytha addressed to National Police chief General Neth Savoeun, who doubles as the head of the secretariat of the permanent security command for the elections.
“To ensure that the commune council elections in the 5th mandate goes smoothly, peacefully, securely, safely, with public order, and without violence, fear or threats, the NEC requests the secretariat … to review and take action as allowed by law” should any such issues arise, Nytha said in the letter.
He stressed that fake news and incitement could lead to discrimination against racial or religious groups or create undue risk to security, public order, defence, the economy, or relations with other countries, potentially undermining the credibility of the elections.
Prevention would also help curtail public insults directed against any candidate or political party, he explained.
NEC spokesman Som Sorida told The Post on May 22 that NEC cannot control social media, saying that it is the duty of authorities such as the ministries of Interior, Information, and Post and Telecommunications.
“They have the authority to control electronic media. We have seen some immoral words and insults being circulated on social media, which is against article 71 of the election law,” he said.