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Hun Sen warns Facebook users that he’s watching

Hun Sen shows the audience at a press conference in 2010 a phone that he uses to keep track of sports. Yesterday the prime minister warned that he would be keeping track of Facebook users that insult him on social media and said they could face arrest.
Hun Sen shows the audience at a press conference in 2010 a phone that he uses to keep track of sports. Yesterday the prime minister warned that he would be keeping track of Facebook users that insult him on social media and said they could face arrest. AFP

Hun Sen warns Facebook users that he’s watching

Facebook users who insult Prime Minister Hun Sen or criticise government policy on sensitive issues could be traced in a matter of hours, the premier said yesterday.

“My opponents should not make insults, because we can identify you,” Hun Sen said during a speech at a Phnom Penh graduation ceremony.

“I’m not exactly sure how the technology works . . . But we can find those people; it’s not very difficult.

“We arrested the colour revolutionaries immediately,” he added, in an apparent reference to a first-year university student arrested in August after advocating nonviolent regime change on Facebook.

On December 22, Hun Sen took a softer approach, saying that officials in his office would take a note of all insulting comments posted to his Facebook page, but only so that they could comment in response, rather than blocking users or taking legal action.

But in yesterday’s speech, he went on to warn social media users that they would not be able to hide their identities from the authorities.

“If I want to get you, I need less than seven hours,” he said. “I won’t need to send forces from Phnom Penh; I can also order local forces. You should not use bad words to insult me, because I can get you if I want to.”

“I want you to know that . . . I see what you write and just want to educate you.”

Chak Sopheap, executive director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, urged politicians to “teach the people how to use social networks correctly”.

“If [users] are worried about incorrectly sharing information, insulting, being arrested or sharing false information, political parties should teach them how to use [social media] responsibly and safely.”

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