The rumors being spread each time the Prime Minister has an ailment, minor or major, hospitalization or outpatient treatment, have become a subject of hot political issue and national security concern. Curbing the speculation on PM’s health is necessary otherwise it might stir political instability and adversely affect investor confidence.
The opposition cyber troopers have politically manipulated the prime minister’s health in order to maintain “hope for change” among its supporters, cause power competition within the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and provoke political uncertainty and instability.
The outlawed opposition leaders have calculated that without Prime Minister Hun Sen, the CPP leadership would be in disarray- it means that the CPP leadership structure could be disintegrated, which in turn leads to the weakening of the CPP.
Although Mr Hun Sen is slowly aging, his health condition remains stable at least for another ten years. An avid golfer pointed out that one should carefully observe the Premier at the golf course where he walks at a fast pace, full of energy.
In the same breadth, we draw attention to the opinion on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s health and whether she is entitled to her privacy. The general public in Germany tends to agree that the Chancellor is entitled to a privilege all other Germans claim for themselves: the right to privacy.
Cambodia does not have a strict data protection law and the right to privacy has not been affectively enforced. Recently, the Cambodian government, in response to the ill-intended speculation on the health of the Prime Minister, has threatened to use legal means against those who fabricate and spread the rumors of PM’s health.
Prime Minister Hun Sen himself and his aides should be more cautious in posting photos on social media platform as it might lead to speculation and rumors on his health. Some private health checkups and medical treatment should be kept confidential.
The media and the public do have a right to know the health of the Prime Minister as it brings into question his leadership capacity and the functioning of the government. However, they need to stick to the facts based on professional and objective assessment.
Although his critics might be fully aware of the facts, they utterly and completely choose to detach themselves from reality and take to the social media to post dire messages and posts and photo-shopped photos and fabricate medical prognosis. Information falsehood and fake news have become a matter of national security concern.
Therefore, the Cambodian government needs to introduce the laws on the right to privacy and personal data protection, cybercrimes, and fake news in order to sustain peace, stability and development. Social media platforms need be further controlled and managed in order to protect the right to privacy of all Cambodians, from being politically and commercially manipulated.
The laws pertaining to personal data protection and cybercrimes should be fast tracked to ensure that all Cambodians are protected from preying eyes and fingers, which not only affect national security and political stability but also the right to privacy of each individual.
The power transition from the pioneer generation to a transitional generation and young generation of leadership is a complex process. A stable and smooth power transition is expected as long as Prime Minister Hun Sen remains at the helm to oversee the whole process.
It would be a historical milestone if Cambodia could have a smooth power transition because historically Cambodia has experienced violent power transitions since it gained independence from France in 1953.
The health of senior and top leaders is a matter of national security so it must be treated with prudence and caution. Rumormongering and ill-intentioned speculation on the health of the leaders must be controlled and curbed, for the sake of political stability and national security.