Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen mocks Sam Rainsy’s Facebook page

Hun Sen mocks Sam Rainsy’s Facebook page

Ex-CNRP leader Sam Rainsy (left) and Prime Minster Hun Sen take a selfie in July 2015 in Phnom Penh.
Ex-CNRP leader Sam Rainsy (left) and Prime Minster Hun Sen take a selfie in July 2015 in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied

Hun Sen mocks Sam Rainsy’s Facebook page

Hun Sen bragged about his Facebook prowess during a speech to thousands of workers on Koh Pich on Sunday, mocking former opposition leader Sam Rainsy for his alleged ineptitude at using the social media platform.

But despite the familiarity of the boast – and questions raised by evidence that millions of Hun Sen’s Facebook “likes” originate in countries like India and the Philippines, where few Cambodians live – recent analytics show Rainsy’s social media presence has indeed taken a hit since the passage of controversial laws specifically designed to sideline him from the political discourse.

“In fact, Sam Rainsy does not know how to use Facebook but declares himself the chief of Facebook,” Hun Sen told the audience, during a speech that was ostensibly about labour rights. “Sam Rainsy does not even know the difference between a post ‘like’ and a total page ‘like’.

“The ‘like’ numbers of Sam Rainsy keep decreasing – something is wrong with that. This is called an empty winded Facebook,” the prime minister added.

According to social media analytical tool Socialbakers, Rainsy’s rate of growth on the platform has indeed decreased recently, with the downward trend coinciding with the July passage of Political Party Law amendments that forbade parties from “conspiring” with “convicts”.

The amendments also prohibit using the voice, image or activities of a convicted criminal for a party’s benefit. Rainsy has been convicted in several cases widely considered to be politically motivated.

Both Rainsy’s “like” growth rate and his level of post interactions – reactions, comments or shares – have suffered since July.

Since January, Rainsy has gained an average of 181,428 new “likes” per month. In the last 30 days, however, he has managed about a third of that, at 67,000.

His interactions have also suffered profoundly. Over the past seven months, he averaged about 2.2 million per month. In the last 30 days, he’s had just 1.4 million.

But CNRP party spokesman Yim Sovann dismissed Hun Sen’s taunts.

“The truth is the truth. It’s not about likes – it’s about free and fair elections . . . If [Hun Sen] thought Sam Rainsy can’t compete with him, he would not pass that law,” Sovann said.

However, the drop-off still raises questions as to whether the amendments were indeed scaring supporters away from Rainsy’s Facebook page, which is his last remaining platform after being forced out of his own party by a previous set of amendments to the party law.

Loy Sam Ol, the CNRP chief of Phnom Penh’s Boeung Kak II commune, acknowledged yesterday that he and other supporters were afraid to interact with Rainsy’s page now.

“We cannot do anything against the law . . . For the ‘likes’ and shares, people do not dare to do it because they are afraid that they will break the law and face punishment,” Sam Ol said.

Rainsy himself also speculated that followers might be intimidated.

“People are more afraid to ‘like’ or share my posts because of news that people have been arrested just for sharing a post that Hun Sen thinks is inciting,” he said.

He also had another explanation: “My share, or penetration, [of the market] has grown bigger and bigger. It’s normal for the rate to slow down when you approach the ceiling of the market.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Gov’t says tourism recovers slightly despite pandemic

    The Ministry of Tourism and the Phnom Penh municipal administration have recognised 33 tourism businesses in the capital which have consistently implemented safety measures for tourists and adhered to the code of conduct issued by the ministry. Recently, the ministry announced that tourism businesses had to

  • Mull ASEAN border opening, PM urges

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region. He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions. The prime minister’s request was made at the

  • Ministry reports 11 new Covid-19 cases, reiterates vigilance

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urged people to continue practising virus prevention techniques after 11 people tested positive for Covid-19 within two days after arriving in the Kingdom. Speaking on Sunday, Bun Heng stressed the importance of washing hands, wearing masks or scarves when

  • Nine on Indonesia flight Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health on Saturday confirmed nine more imported cases of Covid-19. The nine ‒ eight Cambodians and one Indonesian, aged 22 to 26 ‒ arrived in Cambodia on Thursday via a direct flight from Indonesia and are receiving treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hostipal in Phnom Penh.

  • Kingdom’s financial sector healthy

    Cambodia's financial sector remains on a sustainable growth path despite the Covid-19 pandemic squeezing crucial industries, National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) governor Chea Chanto said. Tourism, garments and footwear have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 impact, he said, whereas the financial and agriculture sectors

  • Vietnam told to remove border tents

    Kandal provincial governor Kong Sophoan has ordered local authorities to prohibit the construction of buildings in areas bordering Cambodia and to report any irregularities immediately. Recently, Vietnamese officials removed another seven tents from the border area with Cambodia. His remarks were made on Wednesday afternoon

  • Migrant workers set to return from Malaysia

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation confirmed on Thursday that 158 Cambodian students and migrant workers will fly home from Malaysia on Friday morning. This is the second flight to bring Cambodians home from Malaysia. A ministry notice said Malaysia Airlines Flight MH754 will

  • Cambodia to remain neutral on ASEAN-China territorial dispute

    Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn told an informal meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers on Wednesday that Cambodia will stay neutral on the South China Sea. He appealed to all stakeholders to continue fostering a conducive environment that contributes to the end

  • Keeping it riel, Cambodia steps up de-dollarisation

    The economic downturn has supplied the National Bank of Cambodia with an opportunity to step up its agenda to return the shine on the riel while coping with Covid-19 challenges Late May, an instruction by the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) to financial institutions to

  • ANA finds ancient Sanskrit inscription

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has found a Sanskrit inscription carved on ancient stone. The inscription was discovered on the underside of a stone on Wednesday, in front of the Tonle Snguot temple which workers were cleaning. Archaeologist and Apsara Authority deputy-director Im Sok Rithy