Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rainsy faces defamation charge for post about PM's ‘likes’

Rainsy faces defamation charge for post about PM's ‘likes’

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy last year speaks at a forum in France, where he is living in self-imposed exile to avoid pending defamation cases in Cambodia. Photo supplied
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy last year speaks at a forum in France, where he is living in self-imposed exile to avoid pending defamation cases in Cambodia. Photo supplied

Rainsy faces defamation charge for post about PM's ‘likes’

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy has been hit with yet another defamation case for publishing instructions, purportedly from a CPP official, asking ruling party members to create Facebook accounts to bolster Prime Minister Hun Sen’s fan base on the site.

On Wednesday, the Cambodia National Rescue Party president uploaded to his Facebook page a message purportedly from Hak Sok Makara, under-secretary of state at the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, which relays instructions from Sam Soeun, a Cambodian People’s Party cabinet member, for the party’s rank-and-file.

Members are told to promote the premier’s Facebook page at “all meetings”, ensure all members “like” his page and “unlike” Rainsy’s page, and to organise “technical working groups” to create accounts to “like” Hun Sen.

“These instructions clearly show that the ruling CPP is pushing – on a large scale – its officials, supporters and networks – including civil servants, policemen and soldiers – to create fake Facebook accounts in order to provide artificial ‘likes’ to Hun Sen’s Facebook page,” Rainsy’s post alleges.

The post prompted Soeun, 64, to yesterday lodge a defamation complaint with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, which demands $5,000 compensation for damaging his reputation and that of Hun Sen.

“On March 9 on the Sam Rainsy Facebook page, there was a post whose meaning was intended to defame me, saying I gave instructions to all subordinates, supporters, and networks including civil servant, polices and soldiers to create fake accounts in order to like the prime minister’s page,” the complaint, obtained by the Post, reads.

“The post also included a description, saying most of the ‘likes’ on Samdech’s page are from buying ‘likes’ from poor people who are jobless… bought or hired to create fake Facebook account to give fake ‘likes’ to the prime minister’s page.

“The post seriously affects the reputation of the national leader and myself.”

Rainsy uploaded the message as part of a post highlighting a Wednesday story in the Post, which revealed that 80 per cent of the premier’s recent Facebook “likes” originated abroad, including more than 255,000 from India.

Likes can be bought from firms that use click farms, where low-paid workers in developing countries create accounts. Rainsy alleged this was the case with Hun Sen’s recent influx of international fans.

Soeun was unreachable yesterday, and CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said he had not heard of the lawsuit, but noted Soeun’s right to protect his reputation.

He denied the party had ordered members to like Hun Sen’s page and again rejected the assertion the premier had paid for likes from abroad.

“As we know, there are millions of CCP members; they came voluntarily to like without being instructed,” he said.

Rainsy is in self-imposed exile to avoid prison for an eight-year-old defamation case brought by Foreign Minister Hor Namhong. National Assembly President Heng Samrin has also initiated a separate defamation suit.

Via email yesterday, the CNRP president welcomed the publicity.

“I would like to thank them [the CPP] for the advertisement they are making for my denouncing of their illegitimate Facebook tricks and maneuvers,” Rainsy said.

Phnom Penh court president Taing Sunlay said no action had been taken yet.

“It depends on the prosecutor whether he will charge or not,” Sunlay said.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has given the green light for anyone who contracts the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron mutation or any other variant to convalesce or receive treatment at home or in any other reasonable non-healthcare setting. The new decision supersedes a restriction on home care for

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa