Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday defended himself against allegations that he had purchased Facebook “likes,” and suggested that opposition leader Sam Rainsy was only accusing him of doing so because he was jealous of the premier’s newfound social media supremacy.
Mr. Rainsy led Mr. Hun Sen in “likes”—a coveted online currency among politicians here—until earlier this year, a few months after Mr. Hun Sen took official ownership of a page in his name and began to post frequent personal updates.
“When I took over this page, the speed [of ‘likes’] moved fast,” Mr. Hun Sen said during a university graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh on Thursday. “That is why I ask the senior who considers himself the Father of Facebook…please do not accuse me of using money, sarongs or monosodium glutamate, or threatening others, to get ‘likes.’”
He added that Mr. Rainsy simply did not want to acknowledge the truth: that more people now “liked” the prime minister.
“In the past, you all used Facebook data to analyze popularity,” he said. “But when you lose, you accuse me of buying ‘likes.’”
In an email on Thursday, Mr. Rainsy suggested that Mr. Hun Sen’s behavior was similar to that of Olivier Stirn, a French minister forced to resign in 1990 after it was revealed that he had paid actors to pretend to be supporters at a political meeting.
“People tend to make fun of the fake popularity of certain dishonest and shameless politicians,” he concluded.