PM Hun Sen Hits Back After Facebook Suspension

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks during the inauguration ceremony of the Bakheng-1 water treatment plant in Phnom Penh on June 19, 2023. Photo by TANG CHHIN Sothy / AFP

PHNOM PENH – Prime Minister Hun Sen says that Facebook has overlooked some issues after the social media giant suspended his account for violating its regulations, warning those happy with the decision could face consequences..

During a meeting with factory workers in Pursat’s Krakor district, Hun Sen confirmed that he would adhere to the Facebook policy but also wanted to see the company consider applying the same policy to those who attacked his wife and children in the past.

“Be careful! You may squeeze Hun Sen’s throat, but it might be your tongue coming out of your mouth,” he said on June 30.

He said he has many ways to spread his message, especially Telegram, TikTok and local TV.

In a veil reference to opponents living abroad, the prime minister said they would lose the means to communicate with local people if he ordered the closure of Facebook for a period or permanently.

However, he said he would not take such a measure since it also affects people.

In the decision released on June 29, The Oversight Board, which run independently of Meta, the owner of Facebook, said it had “overturned Meta’s decision to leave up a video on Facebook in which Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen threatens his political opponents with violence”.

The video was a livestream posted on the PM’s Facebook account in January in which he responded to allegations that his ruling Cambodian People’s Party stole the result in the 2022 election.

The Board said the video included unequivocal statements of intent to commit violence against his political opponents, which clearly violated the Violence and Incitement policy.

“The use of terms such as ‘bat’ and ‘sending gangsters to [your] house’ or ‘legal action’ including midnight arrests amounts to incitement of violence and legal intimidation,” it added.

The board recommended suspending Hun Sen’s Facebook page and Instagram account for six months. His official account “Samdech Hun Sen, Cambodian Prime Minister” became inaccessible.

The PM said on June 29 that he would dump Facebook and use the messenger app Telegram and TikTok instead. He said in his telegram channel, which has more than 800,000 followers, that he had told his assistant to delete his Facebook account and told the social media company about the decision.

“From now on, any Facebook account bearing the name ‘Hun Sen’ is all fake,” he said.

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