Former Prime Minister Hun Sen will resume the use of his Facebook page, now renamed “Samdech Hun Sen of Cambodia”, after Facebook’s parent company Meta Platforms Inc declined the request of its Oversight Board to temporarily suspend the account over alleged breaches of its policies.

Hun Sen’s personal assistant Duong Dara, who created the page for him, told The Post on August 30 that by resuming the use of the page, the former premier would be able to get closer to the public, as he could both share and receive information through the platform.

The issue first arose earlier this year, when the board’s 22 members alleged that the then-prime minister had breached its violence and incitement policies.

On June 30, Hun Sen announced that the government would not block Facebook in Cambodia, but would expel the firm’s representatives and end all forms of representation and partnership in the country.

The decision followed his declaration earlier that day that he had permanently deleted his page, which had over 14 million followers.

The self-deactivation was in response to Meta’s decision to review the recommendation by the board that the account be suspended for six months over a January video post. It claimed that the video contained threats of violence against opposition politicians who Hun Sen claimed had repeatedly insulted him and his family – as well as the ruling party – via the platform.

The board is run independently from Meta and is made up by a panel of global academics, experts and civic leaders. It is funded by an independent trust provided by Meta.

In his audio address to the nation, Hun Sen alluded to the firm’s double standard.

“They [opposition] have previously [used Facebook] to urge the Cambodian armed forces to stage an uprising and arrest the prime minister by violence, but no action was ever taken [by Meta] against them,” he noted at the time.

On July 4, Cambodia barred entry to the 22 members of the board, and ordered all Facebook representatives to leave the country.

The government is now prepared to welcome the firm’s new representatives back to the Kingdom, following Meta’s rejection of their suspension request, according the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications.

“[We] accept and appreciate the correct decision made by Meta Platforms Inc,” said the ministry in a statement late on August 29.

“This decision reflects the integrity of information broadcast on the official Facebook page of former Prime Minister Hun Sen,” it added.

The ministry said that while it will allow Facebook representatives to return, the July 4 entry ban imposed on the board’s 22 members will remain in effect.

“The ministry will not welcome the oversight board members, as they offered poor, politically motivated advice and interfered in Cambodia’s internal affairs,” it stressed.

In an August 28 statement, Meta explained that Hun Sen had made a lengthy speech which covered a wide range of topics such as Cambodia’s relationship with China, the Covid-19 pandemic, legal action and the use of physical force. It said the oversight board members had understood those statement as intent to incite violence against political opponents.

“Upon initial review, Meta marked this content as non-violating. However, upon additional review, we determined that the content violated our Violence and Incitement policy, as laid out in the Facebook Community Standards, but decided that the newsworthiness allowance applies and left the content up,” it said.

Following the deactivation, Dara had temporarily managed the page, but it would now be returned to Hun Sen.

“I am pleased that Meta chose not to follow the request made by the Oversight Board. As long as there are no technical errors, I will return the page to him. I think the fact that it has more than 14 million followers demonstrates how important it is for sharing information and communicating with the public,” he said.

He believed that the rejection of the suspension request was due to Meta’s realisation that a page could be an important communication platform between a leader and their citizens, allowing them to receive requests and recommendations.