NEC wants critic investigated

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
NEC chairman Prach Chan speaks at a meeting after the June 5 Commune Council Elections. AKP

The National Election Committee (NEC) requested that the authorities investigate, and if necessary pursue legal action, against Kim Chanratana, a Cambodian-American living in the US state of Georgia.

Chanratana is accused of undermining the democratic process in Cambodia via social media posts under the name “Sam Rainsy’s Heroism”.

Dim Sovannarom, a senior NEC member and head of its Press and Quick Reaction Unit, said on June 16 that the Facebook account on June 14 posted the song “Phkay Reah Kandal Thngai Trong”, which he said had damaged the NEC’s reputation by calling them thieves and belittled their efforts to oversee a free and fair election, he said.

Sovannarom said the publicity had brought a loss of credibility to the June 5 commune council elections.

“We cannot accept this post and emphatically condemn people who act with bad intent to serve their own interests and ambitions. We request that people immediately stop sharing this song,” he said.

Sovannarom added that under article 42 of the law of the organisation and the functioning of the NEC – and under Article 171 of the Commune Council Election Law – NEC had requested that the person be immediately investigated. This needed to happen to protect the the NEC’s independence, neutrality and transparency.

Moeun Tola, executive director of the Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights (CENTRAL), said on June 16 that the NEC should show patience. It needs to ensure it has the trust of the public, and if it uses legal mechanisms to sue critics, it does not help its credibility.

“I request that as an arbiter, NEC should explain its position to the person who posted it, rather than suing them. This would ensure transparency, and an opportunity to find out whether the criticism concerns the legal systems, transparency of the election or vote counting,” he added.

Chea Pov, director of the Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Cybercrime Department, said on June 16 that the department had not yet received a letter requesting an investigation of the case. Perhaps, he said, the NEC had complained to a different authority, adding that he had just seen the publicity.

He added that if the NEC filed a complaint with the department, its officials would take action to identify the person and bring them to justice, because NEC has the same rights as anyone.