Speaking for the first time since returning from a medical trip to Singapore, Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday said legal action will be taken against Facebook users who post fake news about his health.
Mr Hun Sen returned on Wednesday, after spending several days at a hospital in Singapore for his shoulder pain.
During an address to the Council of Ministers on Friday, Mr Hun Sen said those who spread fake news about his health must face serious legal action.
“There are bad people who want to see me dead by commenting bad news, that I am ill and hospitalised,” Mr Hun Sen said. “Now I want the authorities to collect the data of those who commented bad things about me on Facebook, so we can grill them in the future.”
“Our assigned Facebook team has to find out where they live, what their email addresses are, and so on,” he added. “Concerned authorities need to follow up and never give up. We can’t let them continue commenting bad things any more.”
Government spokesman Phay Siphan yesterday said spreading fake news about the country’s leader is a criminal offence that could cause chaos and destabilise national security.
“The government will take serious measures against this criminal act,” he said.
National Police spokesman Lieutenant General Chhay Kim Khoeun yesterday said the National Police has already received an order to investigate and will identify anyone spreading fake news about Mr Hun Sen’s health.
“We have already received the order and our police officials are working hard to investigate,” Lt Gen Kim Khoeun said.
Lt Gen Kim Khoeun added police cannot reveal the identities of those being investigated.
“We cannot tell you who they are now, we will publish the names when we are done,” he said. “We have some clues, but it’s confidential.”
On Friday, CNRP activist overseas Chham Chhany posted a photo of Mr Hun Sen with a message.
“The ambition to transfer the power of Hun Sen to his successor has not been done yet,” Mr Chhany said on Facebook. “Hun Sen has become seriously sick. Even if Hun Sen dies, maybe his wife and children will not dare to tell the public.”
Yesterday, Mr Chhany posted the same photo, but with a different message.
“If he dies, he cannot bring his rank, position or properties with him,” he said. “Why do people like to kill others and destroy their own nation in order to get power, rank, position and properties?”
San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, yesterday said authorities will need to point out where it says Facebook users shall be punished for expressing their concerns.
“If it’s about defaming the prime minister or about comments regarding the prime minister’s health, I want the authorities to show which articles were violated,” Mr Chey said. “Previously, we have only seen people punished for defaming the King.”