Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rainsy lawsuit ‘clarified’ by chief of CPP website

Rainsy lawsuit ‘clarified’ by chief of CPP website

CPP web administration official Som Soeun, who has sued opposition leader Sam Rainsy for defamation, speaks to reporters after leaving Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday.
CPP web administration official Som Soeun, who has sued opposition leader Sam Rainsy for defamation, speaks to reporters after leaving Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday. Niem Chheng

Rainsy lawsuit ‘clarified’ by chief of CPP website

A Cambodian People’s Party official was summonsed to Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday to clarify the defamation suit he launched against opposition leader Sam Rainsy over a Facebook spat.

Som Soeun, chief of the technical group of the CPP website, said he had instructed people to “like” Prime Minister Hun Sen’s page, but denied Rainsy’s allegation he had told them to create fake accounts to bolster the premier’s following.

Soeun took issue with Rainsy “distorting” a directive to CPP members in a Facebook post on March 9.

“The message was mine. I made it to instruct the party members to like Samdech’s [Hun Sen’s] Facebook page. That’s all,” Soeun said.

He said his five-point plan told members they should help other members to create an account and like the page – but he did not address the point of “un-liking” Rainsy’s page.

“There is no part of the message that said we have to create fake accounts . . . the account is real, not fake,” he said.

“He [Rainsy] distorted the message by claiming that I instructed supporters including civil servants, police and soldiers.

The party never instructed [them] to do that; we instructed only the party members.”

Rainsy disagreed yesterday, saying that Hun Sen was “a Facebook cheater” and that Soeun had “implicitly and actually asked CPP supporters to use all possible technical means” to inflate the prime minister’s “likes”.

“Nobody should be surprised with regard to the CPP’s unscrupulous way of collecting Facebook ‘likes’ in Cambodia, where the ruling party has mobilised the whole state apparatus to support Hun Sen’s offensive in the social network,” he said via email.

The defamation case comes in the wake of a Post report that showed 80 per cent of the premier’s most-recent “likes” had come from abroad, raising questions about their authenticity.

CPP spokesperson Sok Eysan yesterday was forced to backpedal on his previous assertion that members “came voluntarily to like without being instructed”.

“As [Soeun] insisted, there was no bribery, no threat; he just instructed. It is simple, because the instruction is not for the opposition party, it is for the CPP and the general public to like. It is not wrong.”

Soeun said that he sued Sam Rainsy for 20 million riel, about $5,000, because he wanted justice.

“If I win, I will give this 20 million riel to Facebook groups to use it for humanitarian work for the people,” he said.

Additional reporting by Erin Handley

MOST VIEWED

  • US to ramp up sanctions after ‘flawed’ national polls

    At a press conference on Wednesday, the US State Department announced that it would expand visa sanctions on the Cambodian officials and individuals it deems responsible for “undermining democracy” in Cambodia. At the briefing, spokesperson Heather Nauert reiterated that the department regarded the July 29 elections

  • Final poll results confirm first single-party Assembly

    IN an unprecedented situation in Cambodian politics, the official results of the July 29 national elections have declared that the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) will take all 125 seats in the National Assembly on the back of it receiving 76 per cent of the votes. The National

  • Chinese influence to sweep Kingdom?

    Growing Cambodia-China ties have seen the latter’s influence sweep across the Kingdom through increased investments and tourism. The Asian giant has become the leading source of foreign funds in Cambodia, fuelling the construction sector with huge casino and hotel projects. Much of the growth

  • Tourist arrivals up by 12%

    Cambodia welcomed more than three million foreign tourists in the first half this year, an increase of 12.7 per cent compared to the same period last year, official data from the Ministry of Tourism said. Leading the way in the rise were Chinese and Vietnamese tourists.