Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Social media rumour claims one type of vote indicator is poisonous

Social media rumour claims one type of vote indicator is poisonous

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Prime Minister Hun Sen shows indelible ink on his right finger after voting at a polling station during commune elections in Kandal province on June 3, 2012. TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP

Social media rumour claims one type of vote indicator is poisonous

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday called for the arrest of those spreading fake news reports on social media that claim some of the indelible ink to be used in the July 29 national elections contain poison.

The prime minister then revealed that officials can locate those who share such articles on social networking sites within six minutes. He also referred to calls for a polls boycott as “treason”.

Despite implying that an NGO from the previous watchdog coalition, the “Situation Room”, could be behind the reports, a representative from Nicfec and a former lawmaker from the court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) denied any links to the articles.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the Cambodia-China Friendship Overpass in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen claimed the online reports were criminal and fraudulent, and that whoever planned them must be arrested even if they fled the Kingdom.

“This morning, I was informed about a fraud which becomes a crime for them. It is unforgivable. They said that there will be two types of black ink in use on election day – one bottle is a normal ink and the other contains poison, so whoever touches that ink will die in 24 hours,” he said.

The prime minister also reminded the public of opposition claims before the 2013 national elections that the ink could be cleaned off skin to allow double voting.

“This is a message to the same group of people who, five years ago, talked about erasable black ink . . . We can’t let them get away [with it]. We need to arrest the group’s leaders."

“Even though they escapedto other countries, we need to get them back to Cambodia. I will not allow [such talk]."

“This is a fraudulent statement planned to scare people into not going to vote, along with the other group that is calling on people not to vote,” Hen Sen said, referring to calls by CNRP members."

Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who now heads the Cambodia National Rescue Movement (CNRM), and other former CNRP leaders have been calling the coming polls a “fake election”.

‘It is our right to speak’

The prime minister said he had alerted the ministries of Defence and Interior to investigate the reports, and urged the people to inform the authorities if they knew of anyone encouraging an election boycott.

“You need to remember that your tricks ruin the country. I cannot let you get away [with them]. Even your party president [Kem Sokha] was arrested because of treason – and this is treasonous too,” he said to those urging a boycott.

Hun Sen said the government has technology which allows it to zero in on any Facebook user within “only six minutes”.

“Please, police and intelligence [officers], reveal all the technology we have to catch Facebook posters.

“It doesn’t take much time, only six minutes. You can’t even walk away from that location … No need to send police from Phnom Penh. We have the force there,” he said.

Sam Kuntheamy, executive director of election watchdog Nicfec, which was a member of the Situation Room, expressed concern over the report about the ink, but he said his group had no hand in it.

“We don’t have any campaign . . . he just suspects it’s the work of election monitoring NGOs,” Kuntheamy said.

Mao Monyvann, a former CNRP lawmaker also denied any association with the social media posts, claiming he wasn’t worried about any action taken by authorities because he had not done anything wrong.

“The accusation is just an accusation . . . I am not afraid because I am an honest man. It is our right to speak however we want as long as it’s not illegal,” he said.

Political analyst Meas Ny said the prime minister’s threat would weigh heavier on Facebook users, who should be careful what they posted and shared. “This can intimidate or put pressure on Facebook users,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • WHO: Covid in Cambodia goes into new phase

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia said that Cambodia has reached a new phase of the pandemic with “decreasing case numbers, high vaccination coverage and a more transmissible circulating variant threatening a hidden surge”. In a press release on September 6, the WHO said that

  • 'Pursue your goals, reach out to me': Young diplomat tapped as envoy to South Korea

    Chring Botum Rangsay was a secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation before being designated as the new Cambodian ambassador to South Korea. According to her official CV published on the foreign ministry’s website, she started her first government

  • International air visitor arrivals dip 93%

    The number of foreign tourists entering Cambodia through the Kingdom’s three international airports witnessed a sharp 92.5 per cent year-on-year decline in the first seven months of this year, according to the Ministry of Tourism. The airports handled 51,729 international tourists in the January-July period versus

  • School reopening ‘offers model for other sectors’

    World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to Cambodia Li Ailan said school reopening process should be used as a role model for reopening other sectors currently mothballed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Li strongly supports the government’s decision to reopen schools, saying it is a decision

  • Covid jab drive for 6-11 age group to begin Sept 17

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has permitted Covid-19 vaccinations for over 1.8 million children aged 6-11 across the country from September 17 in order for them to return to school after a long hiatus. Hun Sen also hinted that vaccinations for the 3-6 age group will follow in

  • Is Cambodia’s microfinance sector running its course?

    Economic growth and the strength of the banking system might have prompted a slow decline of the microfinance segment that has been raising a population ‘The MFI business model is over,” opined David Van, a Cambodian investment expert, recently. He felt that in a couple