Hun Sen Defends Value of New ‘Electronic Government’

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday lambasted anonymous “analysts” who have criticized his recent Facebook-related initiatives, telling an audience of thousands in Tbong Khmum province that he now presided over an “electronic government” responsive to citizens’ needs.

On Monday, Mr. Hun Sen issued a directive informing each government ministry to create a working group to track and report grievances posted to the “Samdech Hun Sen, Cambodian Prime Minister” Facebook page.

Speaking during the inauguration of the University of Heng Samrin Thbong Khmum, Mr. Hun Sen complained that despite what he said was a very positive response to his use of Facebook, a vocal few had found fault with him.

“In fact, citizens and other institutions throughout the country welcome it, but there are analysts who called us the ‘Facebook Council of Ministers,’” the prime minister said.

“I think we should establish a school and invite [the analysts] to teach us what we should do and should not do,” he jibed.

“[We] are an electronic government using all networks— including the fastest network—to solve issues for citizens,” he said, referring to Facebook.

Noting his critics had labeled him the “Facebook prime minister,” Mr. Hun Sen then appeared to turn his attention to opposition leader Sam Rainsy, assuring the crowd that he used social media for more noble causes than his rival.

“In the past, who said he was a Facebook prime minister?” Mr. Hun Sen said. “I do not use my Facebook to compete with others. My Facebook is used to solve people’s concerns.”

Mr. Rainsy—who has for years lauded his own Facebook prowess —described Mr. Hun Sen’s use of the social networking site to address the public’s concerns and formulate policy as a “piecemeal, short-sighted and populist approach that runs contrary to good governance.”

“Creating problems for the people through arbitrary decisions and systemic corruption and, from time to time, alleviating the effects of some of those problems in a theatrical way, seems to be the regime’s modus operandi,” Mr. Rainsy said in an email.

As for Mr. Hun Sen’s Facebook page recently receiving more “likes” than his own, Mr. Rainsy said he was happy to give up his perch atop Cambodia’s social media leaderboard.

“I congratulate Hun Sen on becoming Cambodia’s Prime Minister of Facebook, knowing that this is an artificial, misleading, short-lived and ridiculous title for a real Prime Minister. Fortunately, Cambodia will have a new real Prime Minister soon,” he said.

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