In order to counter criticisms made by journalists and the general public, the government has created a unit made out of ministry spokespersons to ensure speedy responses.
The decision to create the unit was sanctioned by Prime Minister Hun Sen on March 6 via a letter.
Obtained yesterday, the letter said the unit will consist of a president, four vice presidents and 25 members, all made out of senior government officials from various ministries.
“The government’s spokespersons unit has the duty to manage, coordinate and disseminate any information related to the government,” it said, noting that the unit will also be responsible for the collecting, monitoring, investigating and analysing of information and events.
It noted that the unit will also be responsible for curbing fake news, especially when it aims to cause damage to national security, public order, stability and the reputation of the government.
“Explain and disseminate the government’s priority programmes to newspapers as well as the general public in order for them to avoid wrong explanations that cause negative impacts on the evaluation of the government,” it said, noting that the unit will be financially supported by the Council of Ministers.
Government spokesman and spokespersons unit president Phay Siphan said the unit was created so the public can receive government information. He said that he himself is a member of the unit.
“In the unit, I am the president. The four vice presidents are Ek Madra, General Khieu Sopheak, General Chhum Sucheat, and the other one is from the Foreign Affairs Ministry,” Mr Siphan said.
He noted that in the unit, members will meet at least once a month to discuss information in the media.
“Proactive spokespersons will provide information to journalists and the public,” he said.
Council of Ministers spokesman Tith Sothea said he and other members will do their best to carry out their tasks.
“We will give our best and we will cooperate and work with each other to provide true information to journalists and the public,” Mr Sothea said.
Political analyst Meas Nee said that the unit was created to counter anti-government sentiment on social media platforms such as Facebook.
“When there’s a sensitive story, the public tends to criticise,” Mr Nee said. “The government needs to prepare in advance when it comes to responding to something on social media.”
“I think this is a way for the government to strengthen itself and prevent [criticism],” he added.