Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Posts threatening life of PM under investigation

Posts threatening life of PM under investigation

Pich Roth Tha was arrested and questioned by authorities yesterday for allegedly threatening to shoot Prime Minister Hun Sen in a Facebook post.
Pich Roth Tha was arrested and questioned by authorities yesterday for allegedly threatening to shoot Prime Minister Hun Sen in a Facebook post. Photo supplied

Posts threatening life of PM under investigation

The Interior Ministry’s Anti-Terrorism Department yesterday opened an investigation into Facebook posts on the page of a Preah Sihanouk province man threatening to shoot Prime Minister Hun Sen in the head.

Casino driver Pich Roth Tha’s first post, which went viral on Wednesday, featured a selfie next to a picture of a handgun. Addressing the prime minister directly, it said: “Hun Sen, you kill too many Khmer [people], it will not be long before you will be dead by my hand.”

A second post announced Roth Tha’s intention to shoot Hun Sen in the head.

Early yesterday morning, Roth Tha turned himself in to provincial police, claiming that an unknown person hacked his Facebook account to post the threatening rhetoric. The posts have since disappeared from Roth Tha’s profile.

“We cannot make a conclusion because we do not have [the] technology, and we sent him to Phnom Penh for questioning at the Anti-Terrorism Department,” said Preah Sihanouk Deputy Provincial Police Chief San Bunthon.

National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith confirmed the man was being interrogated, but maintained “it does not mean we arrested him”.

“We are questioning him, and we have not finished the questioning yet, and continue to do it because he had came to our police to clarify the case,” he said.

It would not be the first time an individual faced legal trouble for posting threatening messages on Facebook. In 2015, a university graduate wrote a post threatening to detonate a bomb at a graduation ceremony presided over by Interior Minister Sar Kheng. Sentenced to 15 months in prison, the man spent only one month in jail after apologising to Kheng.

Article 41 of the Cambodian Constitution forbids speech that infringes upon the rights of others or threatens “to violate public law and order and national security”.

While condemning the violent speech, rights observers argued such posts were not worthy of prosecution.

“This might go beyond the scope of legitimately protected freedoms, [but] he should be given a chance to apologise and rectify his alleged threats,” Cambodian Center for Human Rights Advocacy Director Piseth Duch said in a message.

Licadho’s director of advocacy, Naly Pilorge, pointed out that violent speech – often used by high-ranking government officials themselves – infects all levels of society.

“I do not know the circumstances of this case but I question as to why nothing happens to politicians who threaten to smash teeth of protesters and kill 100-200 [people],” Pilorge said in a message, referring to Defence Minister Tea Banh and Hun Sen’s violent rhetoric during the commune election season. “Are there different kinds of justice depending on social or economic status of the persons involved?”

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Stop Russia sanctions

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said sanctions against Russia as a result of its military offensive in Ukraine should be stopped as they have produced no tangible results, and predicted that a global food crisis would ensue in 2023 as a consequence. Speaking to an audience at

  • Chinese tourists 2.0 – Coming anytime soon?

    Regional tourism is grappling with the absence of the prolific travellers and big spenders – the Chinese tourists. Cambodia, which has welcomed over two million Chinese tourists before Covid-19, is reeling from the economic loss despite being the first to fully open last November ‘To put

  • PM reflects on shoe throwing: Free speech or act of violence?

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 17 questioned whether a man who threw a shoe at him while he was in the US was exercising freedom of expression or if it was an act of hostility. Hun Sen was referring to an incident last week when

  • Siem Reap’s Angkor Botanical Garden opens

    The Angkor Botanical Garden was officially opened on May 19 with free entry for both local and international visitors for the first six weeks. The garden was established on a nearly 15ha plot of land in Siem Reap. “After the first six weeks, Angkor Botanical Garden

  • Pub Street on the cards for Battambang

    The Battambang Provincial Authority has announced that it is considering establishing a Pub Street in the area around the heritage buildings in Battambang town in a bid to attract more tourists. Battambang provincial governor Sok Lou told The Post that the establishment of a Pub

  • Hun Sen: Don’t react to hostility

    Prime Minister Hun Sen urged tolerance and thanked members of the Cambodian diaspora for not reacting to the hostility on display towards him by others while he was in the US to attend the May 12-13 ASEAN-US Special Summit in Washington, DC. In an audio