Letter to Editor: How to Voice Your Opinion with Value

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  •  Lim Veasna
  • March 23, 2021 8:33 AM

Is there freedom of speech in Cambodia? Regarding this question, some citizens believe that the freedom of speech in Cambodia has been restricted while others believe in the opposite.

It is not a necessity to discover an exact common answer for the above-mentioned question. There is hardly a perfect measurement that everyone could peacefully agree upon. Through this writing, I just want to casually and humbly express my own perspective on the ideological arena that is social media.

I feel like the online platforms have become a virtual battlefield where individuals can, without much physical constraint, express their own emotions or opinions in response to social trends as well as political trends. Beyond that, a number of social media users may also utilize these platforms to mock and insult.

If we think about these activities above, are they categorized as freedom of speech? More or less, I personally believe that they form part of our freedom of speech. Lawfully or unlawfully is another topic which, due to the constraint of time, is not needed to be discussed here.

Personally, I do support the democratic idea of allowing people to voice their own thoughts and concerns. It does not really matter if the opinion is correct or not. A diversity of ideas and opinions is equivalent to a garden full of different flowers with different colors. We can name it “a democratic garden.”  

One thing that somehow disappoints me is that many people simply advocate their own opinions on literally every topic. Sometimes, they do not even know enough about the topics that they share critical opinions of.

Sometimes, they have learnt very little about the development of the issue, yet they take to social media platforms to spread their opinion.

Some other times, the topics involve a lot of technicalities.

With little to no knowledge about the technical aspects, they just, once again, simply voice their own personal perspectives—we’ve seen this a lot in the case of vaccinations. When speaking about vaccines, it is a specialty of doctors and other medical personnel. It is a medical domain with a lot of technical elements. It is not an issue on which farmers, workers or teachers can be expected to express an entirely accurate opinion due to the technical nature of the subject.

It is true that with free speech, we’re able to articulate ideas and opinions openly, but it would probably be a lot better if we were aware of the limitations of our knowledge. Rather than speaking as if we know everything about all topics online, maybe we could try to learn more before we express critical thoughts about something we’re not experts on.

In short, everyone’s entitled to an opinion on everything, but we’re also entitled to not take that opinion seriously if you don’t understand what you’re talking about.

Finally, I would like to sincerely apologize if my writing may somehow affect someone’s feelings, particularly if it does so negatively. Once again, my own opinion right here does not have any intention to restrict the freedom of speech. On the contrary, I just want to see more opinions backed up with facts.

This letter was translated from Khmer version.

 Lim Veasna, is a citizen in Phnom Penh

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