Pen Panha – chairman of the Cambodian National Assembly’s Commission on Legislation and Justice and head of the Cambodian Parliamentary Group for the Association of the Parliaments of Francophone countries (APF) – requested that all government institutions and media organisations combat fake news and disinformation.
Panha made the request during a workshop on combating fake news and promoting press freedom.
The workshop was held on April 6-7 and discussed the challenges and solutions present in the media sector and was attended by organisation members and officials from the parliaments as well as representatives from some Cambodian media institutions.
The APF and the Cambodian Senate were the main sponsoring bodies.
“In the last few years, fake news and misinformation has spread very quickly around the world, including in Cambodia, due to the progress of information technology and the increase of social media usage,” Panha said.
He further said that fake news is one of the main obstacles to peace, security, economic growth, public health, at local regional and international level.
“Fake news and disinformation is a technique used with the intention to mislead the reader and public to advance certain political interests or to impact public opinion on certain issues,” he said, adding that some of the fake news was not just produced for the personal gain of certain individuals but actually had an ideological purpose and intended to foment extreme opinions hostile to the principles of democracy and human rights.
The way to tackle this issue, he said, was to enforce the laws strictly and effectively according to the rule of law and principle of democracy.
National Assembly spokesman Leng Peng Long, who attended the workshop, said he had observed that fake news was often malicious and created with the intention of destroying the social fabric of society.
“The press is essential to maintaining democratic values in our society and that is why press freedoms and freedom of speech are highly respected. But it is only of value when it is disseminating the truth to the public about local and international issues,” he said.
He said that fake new served to discredit the value of authentic and truthful news media outlets and publications and that was why it is important that everyone in the media sector work together to stop it.
“When dealing with the issue of fake news, the parliament must pay attention to it and follow what it is being reported falsely and do everything that it can to contribute to the fight against these lies,” he said.