The Ministry of Defence is investigating an anonymous Facebook page for alleging that a military commander supports a new opposition “movement”, an apparent outgrowth of a ministry push to investigate Facebook users who post in support of the opposition.
The Facebook page, titled Chum Noan Thmey, or New Generation News, claimed that General Neak Vong, deputy commander of Brigade 42, supports the Sam Rainsy-led Cambodia National Rescue Movement.
The movement was established by the former opposition leader in response to an ongoing government crackdown that saw the controversial forced dissolution of the party he co-founded, the Cambodia National Rescue Party.
Rainsy has pledged to use the movement to call for nonviolent protests, while the government has claimed it is a terrorist organisation that will be met with force. Last week, Prime Minister Hun Sen said he would “attack” movement members with BM-21 rocket launchers, and warned them to stay away from Asia entirely.
The Facebook page posted a photo of Vong in an army uniform, claiming that he “declared to support the CNRM . . . according to people close to him”.
The comment added that Vong loves his country and democracy, and struggled against the Vietnamese when he was part of the Khmer Rouge.
The account has since been taken down.Vong took to social media to deny the claim, calling it “fake news” on Saturday night.
“My stance is honest toward the government and nation, and I firmly oppose the CNRP or CNRM, which is the betraying party,” he wrote.
Defence Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat also joined the Facebook fray on Saturday, writing that the ministry would “investigate” the post, which he claimed was made at the behest of the movement “to confuse the public”.
Rainsy declined to comment in depth on the situation, claiming that the movement must remain secretive to protect leaders and supporters.
“It’s the soul of a national resistance against dictatorship,” he said via email.In an interview yesterday, Socheat added that the ministry has a new committee to monitor Facebook for these kinds of posts.
“We have a committee to investigate their IP address; we have our working group to monitor them because they spread fake news,” he said.
“We are investigating and when we are done we will reveal the bad people,” Socheat continued, declining to comment on what legal punishment they may face.