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Debate

តើប្រទេសកម្ពុជាគួតែដាក់បញ្ចូលមុខវិជ្ជាវិទ្យាសាស្ត្រនយោបាយ ចូលក្នុងកម្មវិធីសិក្សាថ្នាក់វិទ្យាល័យដែរឬទេ?

សូមស្វាគមន៍មកកាន់ការតទល់មតិរបស់កាហ្វេនយោបាយ! នេះគឺជាការធ្វើការតទល់មតិលើកទី១របស់យើង​​​ ហើយប្រធានបទគឺ៖​ «តើប្រទេសកម្ពុជា​គួតែដាក់បញ្ចូល​ មុខវិជ្ជាវិទ្យាសាស្រ្តនយោបាយ​ ចូលក្នុងកម្មវិធីសិក្សាថ្នាក់វិទ្យាល័យដែរឬទេ?» ដែលមានវត្តមាន​ កញ្ញា​ សាមឿត ស៊ាវម៉េង​ ខាងស្រប​ និង លោក វណ្ណ​ ប៊ុនណា​ ខាងបដិសេធ ដោយម្នាក់ៗ​ជ្រើសរើសយកទឡ្ហីករណ៍តែចំនួន៣ប៉ុណ្ណោះ​ យកមកបកស្រាយ។ សូមបញ្ចាក់ផងដែរថា ទឡ្ហីករណ៍ដែលពួកគាត់បានយកមកដេញដោលនេះ មិនមែនជាមតិផ្ទាល់ខ្លួនរបស់គាត់នោះទេ ដោយសាតែយើងត្រូវកំណត់ឲ្យមានអ្នកស្រប និងអ្នកបដិសេធ។ គោលបំណងនៃការតទល់មតិ គឺដើម្បីលើកកម្នូពស់នូវវប្បធម៌សន្ទនាប្រជាធិបតេយ្យក្នុងចំណោមយុវជននៅកម្ពុជា។ សូមអានការដេញដោលមតិនេះឲ្យបានល្អិតល្អន់ជាមុនសិន​ មុននឹងអ្នកទាំងអស់គ្នាបោះឆ្នោតឲ្យបេក្ខជនរបស់យើង។​ នេះដោយសារតែអ្នកទាំងអស់គ្នាអាចបោះឆ្នោត​ បានតែម្ដងប៉ុណ្ណោះ ដោយប្រើប្រាស់គណនីហ្វេសប៊ុក។​ ក្រុមកាហ្វេនយោបាយ​ មិនមានសិទ្ធិនិងមិនអាចដឹងបានទេ​ថា អ្នកណាបានបោះឆ្នោតបេក្ខជនមួយណា។​ ការបោះឆ្នោត គឺអនាមិកទាំងអស់! រយ:ពេលនៃការបោះឆ្នោត​ គឺពីរសប្ដាហ៍ ហើយអ្នកដែលទទួលបានភាគរយច្រើនជាង​ គាត់គឺអ្នកឈ្នះ។ អ្នកអាចចូលរួមបញ្ចេញមតិយោបល់ទៅលើការដេញដោលនេះ នៅខាងក្រោមបាន!

koffee

The Role of Youth in Shaping Cambodia’s Democracy

Written by: Han Noy, a 3rd year student majoring in International Relations at Panhasastra University of Cambodia Edited by: Heng KimKong, a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at Cambodia Development Center and a PhD Candidate in Education at The University of Queensland, Australia   (Photo was taken on Saturday, 17th October 2020 at KAS Cambodia office after Politikoffee Forum on the topic: Current Cambodian Political Situation: Readiness for the Coming Elections.)   In 1993, a general election was held in Cambodia, following decades of civil wars and the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge regime. The election, sponsored by the United Nations, aimed to introduce democracy to Cambodia. After the seed of democracy has been planted, the development of democracy in this Southeast Asian country has not been smooth. A coup was staged in July 1997 by the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) to topple the FUNCINPEC forces. Following the coup, the CPP has become a dominant party controlling Cambodian politics since 1998. The CPP’s political dominance changed in 2013 when a newly formed opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, gained considerable support from the voters, winning 55 out of 123 seats. Following the election, the CNRP became a major threat to the CPP in subsequent elections. However, the CNRP was later accused of plotting to topple the government and was dissolved by the Cambodian Supreme Court in 2017. Its senior officials were banned from politics. As a result, the 2018 general election was held without the CNRP as a major opposition party, allowing the CPP to win all the 125 parliamentary seats.  From this brief account, we can see that democracy in Cambodia has been debilitated, making its future fragile and uncertain. This is not to mention the ongoing arrests and oppression on environmental activists, human rights defenders, and former CNRP activities. Democracy in Cambodia, therefore, faces great challenges, and according to some analysts, it seems to go backward instead of moving forward.  Cambodia’s Fragile Democracy  After the general election in 2018, Cambodia has been edging toward authoritarianism and dictatorship. According to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, in 2020 Cambodia’s democracy was ranked 130 out of 167 countries in the world. Cambodia also gained just only 3.10 out of a full score of 10, placing it in the category of authoritarian regimes.  There are many factors that contribute to this ranking. We can look at the essential components of democracy such as human rights, media freedom, free and fair elections, rule of law, checks and balances, transparency, and accountability. These principles have, to some extent, been abused by the government. A series of laws such as union law, state of emergency law, public order law, and internet gateway law have been passed or proposed, potentially putting more restrictions on NGOs, citizens, and the media. This discourages people from getting involved in any political activities or movements to voice their concerns on issues that have not been sufficiently addressed by the government. Power conflict is another major constraint and threat for Cambodian democracy. The country’s democratic institutions have not been fabricated effectively even though Cambodia has adopted core democratic values. Power competition and deep political mistrust are pervasive among the ruling and the opposing political camps, making it virtually impossible for the country to move its democracy forward. In general, the Cambodian government has yet to fulfill its obligation as a democratic government. What happened in 2017 when there was a systematic crackdown on independent media and the political opposition speaks volumes about democratic development in Cambodia. It has been argued that a democratic government is “the government of people, by people and for people.” Thus, the government holds an obligation to serve the public interest, follow the will of the people, and prioritize the needs of the people when making any decisions. The Role of Citizens in a Democracy   In a democratic state, the government is not the only player responsible for keeping democracy on track. The citizen plays an extremely significant role, too. In this regard, civic engagement in politics is vital. People need to participate in politics and become politically literate. When the people understand what democracy is and take part in promoting the principles of democracy, it is likely that they will get the kind of democracy they desire.   Moreover, when people long for democracy but do not understand the normative minimum requirements of democracy, problems will automatically arise. For example, people mostly enjoy the idea of democracy. However, they sometimes do things which are against the democratic principles. They are afraid of giving an interview or report to journalists regarding political and social issues because of fear of insecurity. They commit corruption by bribing officials, thinking that it is not corruption. They ignore political and social affairs and let one person or a group to decide everything for them and their country. They simply do not care about what their government is doing and which direction their country is heading. These behaviors need to change and all citizens need to increase their civic engagement and actively participate in holding the government accountable of their actions.  Cambodian Youth Are the Future  In order to move democracy forward, Cambodian youth who are the future of Cambodia have a pivotal role to play. As estimated by the United Nations, over two-third of Cambodia's population are youth who do not go through the horror of the Khmer Rouge. They are less likely to be influenced by the ruling party’s recurring rhetoric of war and peace, especially in the lead up to general elections. Therefore, more opportunities for youth to strengthen their capabilities should be created. Donors and the international community should increase their support for local NGOs that have youth-focused programs to promote youth education and empowerment so that they can become change agents who can positively contribute to civic, political, social and human rights. When youth are educated and empowered, they will find the way to demand their rights and hold the government more accountable and transparent. Thus, it is vital to support youth who are Cambodia’s future political and civic leaders. Cambodian politics has been navigated by older generations and elites for a long time, and the older generations will have to give up their positions to young generations someday. As such, whether the older generation want to or not, they need to support youth and prepare them to be the future leaders of Cambodia.  Moreover, as Cambodian youth, we need to have conscientiousness and understand that we are the backbone of the nation. We cannot just wait for others to push or help us, but we need to have a sense of responsibility and growth. We must strengthen our capacity and constantly push ourselves to contribute to making positive changes in our society. We cannot make changes unless we are knowledgeable, capable, forward looking, and hardworking.  The Need to Reinvent a New Political Culture  No doubt, there is a need to reinvent a new political culture in Cambodia. Cambodian politics has long been driven by power conflict and zero-sum game competition among the politicians, causing prolonged civil wars, instability, turmoil, and chaos. This political culture must end. Politicians need to prioritize national interests, not self-interests. The current political culture has not been beneficial; it makes the nation divided, creating uncertainty to the current state of peace and development. Thus, it is crucial that politicians give up this political culture and embark on building social cohesion and unity. This is the prerequisite for this nation to rise up again.  Conclusion In sum, Cambodian people, especially youth and politicians, need to know that politics is not a job or game that we all come to play just for fun or self-interest. Politics is a place where we engage to serve the public interest, the people, and the country. We must stop thinking that politics is the rice cooker for us to earn our own interests. Therefore, in a political game, if we do not have the real will to play to serve the nation, it is better not to play because the whole nation’s destiny relies on our decisions as politicians. If we are determined to play this political game in a democratic society, we must abide by the rules and principles of democracy to avoid leaving a bad reputation for the future generation to despise.    *This blog is produced with the financial support from the European Union and The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency through Transparency International Cambodia and ActionAid Cambodia. Its contents do not reflect the views of any donors.  

Politik

Myanmar Crisis to Pose Challenges for Cambodia’s ASEAN Chairmanship 2022

Written by: Vann Bunna, a Master Student of Political Science at Jamia Millia Islamia University, India, and a Research Fellow at the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace. All views expressed are his own.  Edited by: Heng Kimkong, a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at Cambodia Development Center and a PhD Candidate in Education at The University of Queensland, Australia Credit: "The ASEAN Agenda: Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen" by World Economic Forum is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Cambodia is expected to assume the annually rotating chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2022 for the third time since it joined the regional bloc in 1999. The political crisis in Myanmar will pose great challenges for Cambodia as an ASEAN chair in 2022 if the issue cannot be solved timely under Brunei’s ASEAN chairmanship this year. Myanmar military staged a coup and seized power from the democratically elected government on February 1, 2021. It detained the country’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior members of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD). A few ASEAN countries have expressed their concerns on the military coup. However, Cambodia has yet to express a clear position on the Myanmar issue. Cambodia’s stance on the crisis has swayed remarkably. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen previously declined to comment on the Myanmar military coup as he considered it as an “internal affair” of Myanmar. The Cambodian government has also asked civil society not to interfere with Myanmar’s affairs as Cambodia adheres to ASEAN’s non-interference principle. Nevertheless, given the increase of violence on anti-coup protesters, sanctions from the international community on the military regime, and China’s support of the ASEAN role in addressing the issue, Cambodia has changed its position on Myanmar. Cambodia has expressed its concern on the escalation of violence and demonstrated its willingness to put Myanmar on a path to normalcy through the ASEAN framework. Moreover, given that the Myanmar issue may place a considerable burden on Cambodia’s ASEAN Chairmanship in 2022, Hun Sen recently joined ASEAN’s special meeting alongside several other ASEAN leaders to discuss solutions to the crisis. He also shared his experience in implementing the win-win policy to successfully end a prolonged civil war in Cambodia with military junta leader Ming Aung Hlaing. Remarkably, ASEAN reached a five-point consensus on the situation of the Myanmar crisis in last weekend’s summit. The consensus included (a) the immediate cessation of violence; (b) the commencement of constructive dialogue among all parties concerned; (c) the appointment of ASEAN special envoy; (d) the provision of humanitarian assistance; and (e) a visit by the special envoy and delegation to Myanmar to address the issue. Even though ASEAN could conclude the consensus with the junta, Myanmar’s political crisis may not end easily. ASEAN’s solutions on Myanmar may not be a success unless the junta commit to honour the agreements. However, the junta’s political will to implement the ASEAN five-point consensus on Myanmar seems low. For instance, in a statement after the ASEAN’s Myanmar crisis talk, the junta said that it would consider the ASEAN’s proposals “after stabilising the country” and their priority at the moment was to “maintain law and order” and “restore community peace and tranquillity”. This shows that the junta is unwilling to honour the ASEAN’s five-point agreements. In this regard, Myanmar’s political crisis is likely to continue for a long period of time, which will threaten regional peace and stability in general and give burdens to Cambodia as the next ASEAN chair in particular. Myanmar’s political crisis may give Cambodia a tough assignment in its role as an ASEAN chair in 2022.  Sustaining peace and stability in the bloc will be one of the most important priorities for Cambodia in 2022. However, political instability in Myanmar would be a major barrier to Cambodia’s performance as an ASEAN chair and its diplomatic bid to become an important player in promoting peace and stability in the region. In the worst-case scenario, the crisis would plunge Myanmar into a civil war, providing a great opportunity for great powers to advance their geopolitical interests. If this is the case, Myanmar will suffer a proxy war of great power rivalry, potentially putting the whole Southeast Asia region into their battlefield. All of these will weaken ASEAN centrality, especially in terms of addressing the regional challenges, and make ASEAN less relevant to international politics. Considering these challenges, it seems that Cambodia will have little room to make itself proud as a 2022 ASEAN chair. Another significant factor is that the crisis in Myanmar would add to the existing challenges that Cambodia needs to handle in 2022. Given the South China Sea Code of Conduct (COC) has yet to be signed,  it will be passed to Cambodia as ASEAN chair, giving the Kingdom more headache to facilitate ASEAN and China to reach an agreement. With failure to reach a consensus on COC under its ASEAN chairmanship, the Kingdom may once again be in trouble of losing face and credibility as it experienced in 2012 when it was an ASEAN chair. At the time, Cambodia was strongly blamed for failing to issue an ASEAN’s communiqué for the first time in ASEAN’s 45-year history. Amid this unfortunate scenario, the political crisis in Myanmar would be another heavy storm for Cambodia as it takes the helm of the ASEAN ship in 2022. To minimize the challenges, Cambodia needs to play an active and constructive role as much as possible to help Myanmar through the ASEAN mechanism and other regional and international diplomatic platforms. The Kingdom should play a role as a facilitator and mediator to the conflict in Myanmar and help its ASEAN peer to find a peaceful solution to the crisis. Even though the military junta seems unwilling to solve the ongoing issue for the time being, and Cambodia does not have much leverage over Myanmar, there will still be a room for the Cambodia to act. Cambodia needs to try its best to continue to constructively and actively engage with all relevant stakeholders in solving the crisis in Myanmar. Cambodia needs to demonstrate to ASEAN and the world that it has played its part as a responsible ASEAN member. This will help advance its image as “a small country with a big heart”.   

Politik

Koffee

Knowing Your Role in Combating Fake News on Social Media

Written by: Phit Phariya, a 4th year student majoring in International Studies at The Royal University of Phnom Penh Edited by: Sao Phal Niseiy, Editor-in-Chief at The Cambodianess and Deputy Editor-in-Chief at Thmey Thmey News (Photo Credit: "Misinformation" by 3dpete is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0)   Social media is an inevitable part of every society in this digital age. Many things you read online, especially in your social media news feed may appear to be factual but often are not. Due to its rapid speed, false information has been around for years and can be up to six times quicker than a piece of general news. With the illusionary adverse effect, when you hear a lie many times, you tend to believe it is true. In the era of the internet, concern about the issue is intense. You may have to take a moment to think before sharing what you see because fake news is more intimate! Importance of news for daily life   News is vital for a variety of reasons in our daily life. The primary goal of it is to keep the public informed of activities that happen and affect us. We cannot imagine our life without news. News provides us with knowledge, which is crucial for social changes. It is vital to keep track of what is going on in our society with this unpredictable dynamic era, where your views are constantly questioned. Therefore, you need to keep reading the news no matter how old you are and be aware of what is going on in your area. With that, you can assist those who do not know where to start to deal with it and miss out on it. By checking through your social media account, you can find that there is news content in your newsfeed, and it can keep you up to date with what is going on in your local surroundings and the rest of the world. More and more people now engage with social media due to the rising popularity of a wide range of internet-enabled devices and advanced mobile internet speeds. And most of us also get our news from social media sites. Unfortunately, social media has its negative side, in which fake news is widespread. Some specific groups use misinformation to influence and manipulate users for political or economic gain.  Fake news and why people fall for it  False information is not new. It has been a concern of almost every one of us as citizens who obtain information from social media. Fake news is known as false stories fabricated and circulated to deceive those who read it. Such content can damage public debate by manipulating people to make unwise decisions on all aspects of life. False information can fool people by imitating trustworthy websites or using names and web addresses similar to that of credible news organizations. This harm can be the distinguishing factor of disinformation, misinformation, propaganda, clickbait, and hoax. Disinformation refers to the deliberate dissemination of false information with the intent to deceive. Misinformation is inaccurate reporting resulting from misleading an error, an honest mistake, or using incomplete data. There is no intention in deceiving, but it is misleading. And propaganda is the spread of information or ideas, arguments, rumors, half-truths, or lies in a rumor to influence public opinion. Clickbait refers to the exaggerated content or headlines created to provoke readers by appealing to their emotions, generally anger or curiosity. It is to entice readers to connect with content to produce ad revenue. When you click on a link, the website that hosts it receives money from advertisers, but the content itself has a problem with quality and accuracy. The issue is that when a website uses clickbait, it usually prioritizes getting clicks over providing high-quality content. It implies that they do not mind wasting our time with overrated content. And hoax refers to deception, either amusing or malicious, used to manipulate or mislead others. It typically takes the form of fabrication of falsified or incorrect information.  Impacts of fake news Due to the long existence of Fake news, yet with the rise of the ease of the internet and social media, it has become more complicated to determine what can and cannot be trusted. Users are probably aware that fake news and other forms of misleading information can take several structures that may also have significant consequences. It is because knowledge shapes our views, and we place our critical decisions on that. We gather information to manifest opinions about individuals or situations. We will not be able to make good decisions if the information we receive is fabricated, misleading, exaggerated or distorted. That somehow can make us believe and support untruthful misinformation. It can manipulate our thoughts, our perspective, and view toward certain things, leading us to make irrational decisions. Fake News has an immense impact on us as social media users. The senior people who lack technological knowledge can easily fall victim or be vulnerable to it. According to a study published in the journal Science, older people are nearly four times more likely than adolescents to have shared fake news via social media. That includes the information related to the COVID-19 pandemic as the number of infected people has been deployed to manipulate individual points of view. It somehow could impact their psychology and caused the situation to be chaotic. Another case, the spread of untruthful information about the dead people caused by covid-19 which they die due to their health and sickness that completely contradicts the news. Also, there is propaganda circulating vaccine misinformation on safety and effectiveness to generate vaccine hesitancy among people. Moreover, we had seen misinformation spread, which claimed that it was possible to get rid of the virus by consuming garlic or drinking bleach. However, no scientific evidence could prove that eating garlic protects people from the virus. This false information can quickly spread from one to another, much like a virus. But generally, medical misinformation has always been fueled by ideologues who suspect science and proven measures like the case of vaccines.  How to tackle fake news On social media, fake news may be inevitable. However, improving critical thinking will aid in the prevention of the spread. To tackle fake news, people can maintain a healthy level of interest in what they see on their social media. Firstly, they should comprehend how social media sites curate what they spot and learn to take investigative activities to examine whether any information circulated on social media is trustworthy with reliable sources. It is also vital to discover whether a social media account spreading that information has any professional or sentimental connection with the claims. Thus, when consuming "news," you need to look at the source and see if the information is true and accurate. You can also ask yourself some other questions: Is it hosted on a satirical news website? On social media platforms or just personal blogs? Just keep being skeptical of information unless it comes from a reputable news outlet. Do your homework. You need to rigorously check it even though it involves the use of statistics. The point is that statistics are a common way to entice customers and offer the appearance of fact. You cannot take their claims at face value. Review the research's citations and dates, ensuring that they are reliable and not outdated. Secondly, people need to have a sufficient understanding of the aims of their fellow posters who regularly publish information and disseminate news contents. It is the key to countering false or misleading information on social media. In our country, Prime Minister Hun Sen himself urged people, especially media personalities, to join hands and spread more truthful information so it will contribute to eradicating fake news. Not only journalists who have a role, but every individual social media user can play a role in distributing accurate information and also in raising awareness on fake news among their peers. By doing that, more people will care and take action to join the fights against this infodemic. As responsible social media users, people should strictly adhere to their duties with integrity, actively report or pass around only the facts with reliable references, not exaggeration or misrepresentation. All users must spread accurate, evidence-based information. Speaking from my own experience, when people share or forward information to me on social media, I always ask them to check and verify it on official news sites before believing and sharing. If we can follow these, at least we can reduce the frequent spread of false or misleading information on social media. When executed with good purpose and consideration, social media can be a powerful tool for every individual to gather much-needed information. Thirdly, everyone can contribute to preventing fake news from being wider spread by boosting their media literacy. When almost everyone can create content related to various issues, they need to acquire sufficient knowledge on how to deal with fake news and how to use their social media more responsibly. By saying this, they have duties to read and research to comprehend the causes and effects of false information and take part in reporting such information when coming across it through social media platforms. The general public can effectively scrutinize and take further action to tackle fake news when there are more awareness-raising programs, such as seminars, training, public discussions and educational activities. All people should understand that posting false information on social media without accountability is equivalent to spreading fake news and contributing to the degeneration of their society. Everyone can become a fake news distributor, even without having an intention or understanding it, if they do not have basic knowledge of the detrimental consequences of fake news. We can never stop fake news from being circulated, but we can do our part to prevent it from being replicated! *This blog is produced with the financial support from the European Union and The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency through Transparency International Cambodia and ActionAid Cambodia. Its contents do not reflect the views of any donors

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Podcast

‘I used to talk about politics on Facebook, but now it’s scary’

By Adam Bemma, Alijazeera 23 Aug 2018 Phnom Penh, Cambodia – Samoeurth Seavmeng sits at a conference table wearing black horn-rimmed glasses. Meng – as she’s known online and to friends – glances at her smartphone and begins to speak to 10 other young Cambodians gathered at Politikoffee, a weekly forum held in a leafy diplomatic enclave of the capital Phnom Penh. “It’s very hard to talk about social media. Sometimes people post fake news on Facebook and sometimes people post true news, so it has advantages and disadvantages,” the 22-year-old activist said. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen often alleges “fake news” to discredit criticism of his ruling Cambodia People’s Party online. He has even threatened that authorities have the technology to track and arrest a Facebook user within six minutes of a post. This has sent a wave of fear and intimidation through Cambodia’s public sphere, where once critical voices have begun to self-censor. Politikoffee is an offline space where Cambodians feel free to debate and voice dissenting views without fear of arrest.  “Before, I used to share and talk a lot about political and social issues on Facebook, but now it’s a little bit scary to talk about these sensitive issues because I’m afraid I’m going to get in trouble,” Meng said. Internet censorship Cambodia’s government monitors social media. Last May, Cambodia’s Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Information, issued a regulation to monitor Facebook. The government stated that it wants to control information that is deemed to “threaten the defence and security of the nation, relations with other countries, the economy, public order, and discriminates against the country’s customs and traditions.” The Cambodia Center for Independent Media stated in its 2017 report that seven Facebook users were either arrested or sought by authorities for sharing information and opinions on the social media platform. In 2018, an election year, the number is unknown. “The directive was actually released after they were already identifying, monitoring, charging and imprisoning people,” said Naly Pilorge, director at LICADHO, a human rights monitoring group in Cambodia. During the election in July, 17 news websites – including RFA, VOA and Cambodia Daily (already closed down in 2017) – were ordered offline for 48 hours. Critics believe internet censorship is intended to stop outlawed Cambodia National Rescue Party supporters inside the country from sharing, liking or commenting on election boycott campaigns. “The directive came afterwards to legalise what they were doing in practice already. And it changed the habits of the average [social media] user,” Pilorge added. “The people online that we interact with, we see that there are differences. Definitely people are afraid, hesitant, paralysed. Ourselves included. We’re cautious.” In the lead-up to this year’s election, all independent media was shut down. The main opposition leader was jailed for alleged treason. Two former Radio Free Asia reporters and an Australian filmmaker were jailed for alleged espionage. Several human rights and political activists languish inside Cambodia’s prisons – guilty until proven innocent according to LICADHO. “What you’ve seen over the past year and a half is, for example, a minister or the prime minister decides a post is critical or is unacceptable and will immediately denounce a Facebook post,” Pilorge said. “Within 48 hours this individual is being arrested, charged, imprisoned in pre-trial detention and sometimes convicted.” Increasing regulation  Though the election is over, censorship online is prevalent. Prime Minister Hun Sen was re-elected last month in a vote criticised by the UN as fundamentally flawed. “If the situation for freedom of expression worsens, maybe we will have something that we can do together in order to inform [Cambodians] which tool or application they can use without getting into any trouble,” Meng said. Cambodian digital security trainer Moses Ngeth teaches journalists, activists and human rights campaigners how to secure accounts, and protect data online.  “I train them how to do very basic device security for smartphones, password protection. I tell them to be careful when posting something to social media and not to share any personal information,” he said.  Ngeth believes this new mandate will give the ruling CPP legitimacy to pass its much-anticipated draft cybercrime law. “People cannot talk on the radio, or on television. It leaves only Facebook. That’s why they increased regulation of social media,” Ngeth said. Cambodians can still be arrested, charged, jailed or fined for Facebook posts under criminal defamation, royal defamation laws, or incitement. “I think it’s natural to have fear, but when I see someone is arrested for saying something on social media I don’t feel comfortable. I think that people should feel free to express themselves,” said Kounila Keo, a Cambodian blogger and communications consultant. Prime Minister Hun Sen has amassed over 10 million followers on Facebook. Sam Rainsy, the exiled former CNRP leader who ran in the 2013 elections, claims that many are not even Cambodian and may be fake online profiles generated abroad – an accusation the prime minister refutes. “What [the prime minister] said … ‘When you post, I can know the location’ – it’s one of the funniest things I’ve heard from him,” Ngeth said. “Using Facebook to know the location, it’s not possible,” Ngeth said. Prime Minister Hun Sen and members of the CPP are using Facebook to bypass traditional news media such as newspapers, radio and television, viewed as hostile to the government, to reach Cambodians directly with their messages. “The prime minister and other public figures campaign on Facebook,” said Ngeth. We're not doing anything to harm society. We're doing it to make society a better place, especially for youth to be able to share ideas and contribute. SAMOEURTH SEAVMENG, KNOWN AS MENG, ACTIVIST Back at the Politikoffee debate, the upcoming cybercrime law is considered for discussion in a future forum. Meng wants members to be able to communicate online without being punished for spreading “fake news” for commenting on the draft law. “Now we’re thinking about [developing] a new tool, or a new kind of app, that we can be sure will be safe for us to talk about any issue because we mostly discuss politics,” Meng said. “We’re not doing anything to harm society. We’re doing it to make society a better place, especially [for] youth to be able to share ideas and contribute.” Original Link: https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2018/8/23/i-used-to-talk-about-politics-on-facebook-but-now-its-scary

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Cambodian leader's love-hate relationship with Facebook

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