Opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Saturday launched his own mobile phone app, playing catch-up in the ongoing social media arms race between himself and the prime minister.
The app allows users to track notifications from the Cambodia National Rescue Party president’s Facebook account, much like a similar app released by Hun Sen weeks ago, though party spokesman Yim Sovann yesterday denied Rainsy’s app was a reaction to the premier’s.
“We did not create it to follow others,” said Sovann. “It is the information for the sake of the nation, so that people can decide on choosing a leader for the country.”
For now, only the Android version of the app is available, though Sovann said that an iOS version will be developed soon.
Political blogger Ou Ritthy said that the apps were a sign that the balance of social media power seemed to be shifting.
“Last year, many people believed that Hun Sen followed and learnt from Sam Rainsy,” Ritthy said in an email. “Now it is Sam Rainsy who has learned from Hun Sen.”
Moeun Chhean Nariddh, director of the Cambodian Institute for Media Studies, said that the other prong of the CPP’s strategy is restricting social media use among opponents by using legal crackdowns.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan yesterday also insisted that Rainsy’s app was different from Hun Sen’s.
“Rainsy is using his app for political campaigning,” he said. “[The prime minister] is using it to listen to the people.”