The year is 1945 and Cambodian men are packed into traditional longboats, ready to race each other in an event that “has been going on for more than 1,000 years” at the annual Water Festival in Phnom Penh.
Hun Sinath, the younger sister of Prime Minister Hun Sen, on Monday became the latest government official to attempt to discredit a prominent opposition figure by posting malicious imagery on social media.
Ms. Sinath, who also serves as a CPP undersecretary of state at the Ministry of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspection, shared two images on her Facebook page that linked opposition leader Sam Rainsy to senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge, as well as Adolf Hitler.
The first, posted at 11:15 p.m. on Monday night, shows an image of Mr. Rainsy above the faces of nine members of the Khmer Rouge, including Ieng Sary, Khieu Samphan and, most prominently, Pol Pot.
“Parisian scholars are all nation destroyers,” reads a caption partially superimposed over Mr. Rainsy’s face.
Pol Pot, Ieng Sary and Khieu Samphan, as well as a number of other future members of the Khmer Rouge regime, cut their teeth in the communist milieu of Paris during the 1960s on scholarships from Prince Norodom Sihanouk.
“I support this [image] since these are true words about the Khmer Rouge regime, under which a million people died. In the present day, another has come from France,” Ms. Sinath wrote, in a reference to Mr. Rainsy, who lived in Paris after his family’s exile under Prince Sihanouk’s regime in 1965, and returned to Cambodia in 1992 to serve as finance minister.
Ms. Sinath herself joined the Khmer Rouge maquis in 1971, around the same time as Mr. Hun Sen, according to Mr. Hun Sen’s biographers, Harish and Julie Mehta.
Mr. Rainsy, who was never a member of the Khmer Rouge, said Tuesday he would not comment on Ms. Sinath’s postings, which also included an image showing Mr. Rainsy with his arm raised in a fashion similar to the salute made famous by the Nazis. “He wants to follow Hitler’s leadership to implement in our country,” Ms. Sinath wrote below the image of Mr. Rainsy.
“I don’t want to respond to that kind of insult. Why should I respond to something broadly attacking anyone who studied in Paris?” Mr. Rainsy said. “It’s really very mean.”
Ms. Sinath could not be reached for comment.
Last week, Information Minister Khieu Kanharith shared, and later deleted, an image on his Facebook page that falsely purported to show outspoken dissident monk But Butenh kissing a foreign women.
Mr. Kanharith refused to apologize or add a correction regarding the image, which was of a monk in Sri Lanka, saying that social media was not an “official” source of information.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan on Tuesday agreed that Facebook was currently fair game for potentially libelous posts.
“We have no laws that make any judgments on Facebook,” Mr. Siphan said.
“If someone posted saying they wanted to kill the prime minister, we could not even do anything on that…except to call them and ask what they mean,” he said.
© 2014, The Cambodia Daily. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in print, electronically, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without written permission.