Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Facebook safe: government

Facebook safe: government

An internet user reads up–to–date political commentary on Facebook in Phnom Penh
An internet user reads up–to–date political commentary on Facebook in Phnom Penh. Government officials say they have no plans to shut down the popular social network. VIREAK MAI

Facebook safe: government

Although some of its users have made a habit of posting content critical of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, Facebook will be not be banned or restricted in any way, Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said on Saturday.

Just days after Metfone customers were not able to access Facebook for several hours – downtime that prompted speculation the government had blocked the social networking site – Kanharith dismissed the idea of internet censorship.

“It would be completely crazy if we controlled the internet,” he said at a graduation ceremony on Saturday. “We have nothing to gain by closing Facebook, and we have no criminal law regarding the internet.”

Government intervention in cyber-land was something people had suggested to the minister in the wake of torrents of abuse, “anarchy” and digitally altered photos of political figures, including himself, Kanharith added.

But none of it had changed the government’s position and it had no such plans to “manage the net”.

Kanharith said he objected to anonymous insults, “bad writers” and “half-finished” journalism that appeared on Facebook, but said he supported the public’s freedom to look elsewhere than television for their news.

People were doing just that, opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party spokesman Yim Sovann said yesterday, and Facebook was opening their eyes to the realities of Cambodian society.

“You can see the corruption and human rights violations,” he said. “People get accurate news and see the truth ... [they] don’t see on TV. It’s their only means of accessing information that reflects reality.”

This increased awareness had doubtless scored more votes – and seats – for the CNRP at the July 28 election, he said.

But despite Facebook providing an enormous advantage to the CNRP, Sovann has no fears of the site being banned.

“I think it is impossible to [ban],” he said.

Kounila Keo, a prominent blogger and media consultant in Cambodia, said banning Facebook would certainly affect Cambodia’s political landscape – but only for as long as it took for people to find their way past the filters.

“No matter how many times [Facebook] has been banned in Vietnam, people have still found ways to go back,” she said.

The site itself was a hugely effective tool for spreading information and a medium the opposition had successfully tapped in to during its campaign, Kounila added.

“Raw, unedited, uncensored videos [and] information have been posted timely by people who don’t fear or can remain anonymous,” she said.

The CNRP "capitalised on social media to draw popularity and support on Facebook [and] organised meet-ups and more.”

During the election period and the time since, Kounila added, Facebook users had continued their discussions without fear or restriction, something “unprecedented in Cambodia”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • 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