Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Fact-checking the Press Quick Reaction Unit

Fact-checking the Press Quick Reaction Unit

Self-exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy speaks in July at the European Parliament, where he called for stricter action from the EU to ensure legitimate elections in 2017 and 2018.
Self-exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy speaks in July at the European Parliament, where he called for stricter action from the EU to ensure legitimate elections in 2017 and 2018. Photo supplied

Fact-checking the Press Quick Reaction Unit

The government’s propaganda arm yesterday launched an attack on CNRP leaders over the now-dissolved opposition’s calls for economic sanctions on Cambodia, calling them “selfish” while also making several unsubstantiated or false claims.

The nearly 20-minute video, which was released by the Press Quick Reaction Unit (PQRU), is titled Cutting aid is the biggest achievement of former opposition party. It names former CNRP presidents Kem Sokha and Sam Rainsy, as well as deputy presidents Mu Sochua and Eng Chhay Eang, and accuses them of supporting sanctions on Cambodia and seeking to harm the country.

“Wherever they go, their language is to appeal to foreigners to do economic sanctions, for stopping the purchase of goods from Cambodia,” the video says.

In a Reuters interview in October, Sochua called for targeted economic sanctions on government leaders, but said any sanctions should refrain from hitting garment exports, which hundreds of thousands of Cambodians rely on for livelihoods.

The video also incorrectly compares the CNRP leaders to other opposition leaders in the region, claiming falsely at one point that former Myanmar opposition leader and current de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi never called for sanctions during her time in the opposition.

Suu Kyi and her political party were consistent supporters of Western sanctions against the Myanmar military junta for more than a decade, including offering support for a nationwide tourism boycott. She only called for sanctions to be eased when she was released from house arrest and the junta had loosened political and democratic restrictions.

Sochua said yesterday that the European Union has always made human rights and democracy prerequisites for its preferential Everything But Arms trade deal, to which Cambodia has access, and threw the blame back at the prime minister.

“[The] EU has given Mr Hun Sen plenty of time to comply or risk the consequence,” she wrote in an email.

While the EU has yet to announce aid cuts or sanctions on Cambodia, the US is one of the few countries that has taken concrete action, by suspending funding for the National Election Committee after the Supreme Court dissolved the CNRP.

When asked yesterday if requests from CNRP leadership were responsible for the decision to suspend funding to the government’s election body, an embassy spokesman referred The Post to a November 16 White House statement on the funding cut, with particular emphasis on a sentence about the US taking “concrete steps to respond to the Cambodian government’s deeply regrettable actions”. Additional reporting by Brendan O’Byrne

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Angkor photo rules clarified

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) denied that it had banned the use of camera tripods in the Angkor Archaeological Park, explaining that the confusion stemmed from a long-standing rule which required commercial photographers and videographers to apply for permission to film. The explanation followed a

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At