Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sok An slam draws legal threat

Sok An slam draws legal threat

A photo of Japan-based opposition activist and supporter Hay Vanna taken from his Facebook page, where he posted criticism of the late Sok An, prompting government spokesman Phay Siphan to threaten legal action. Facebook
A photo of Japan-based opposition activist and supporter Hay Vanna taken from his Facebook page, where he posted criticism of the late Sok An, prompting government spokesman Phay Siphan to threaten legal action. Facebook

Sok An slam draws legal threat

Initially defiant, Japan-based opposition activist Vanna Hay, who wrote on his Facebook page that the late deputy prime minister Sok An should “rest in hell”, yesterday apologised for his comments following pressure from his parents and a threat by government spokesman Phay Siphan to take legal action.

Despite the apology, however, Siphan said he would still lodge a complaint with the court. “We’ll let the judge decide,” he said.

Vanna, whose Facebook page describes him as a “political activist” who is “fighting together with the CNRP”, took aim at the late minister for the Council of Ministers on Wednesday after his death from a long illness was announced publicly. In one post, he claimed that “almost every Cambodian” was happy about Sok An’s death.

He added that “we all hate [these] sucking guys”, and that Chea Sim – the late CPP president and Senate head, who died in 2015 – and Sok An “are in HELL and soon Hun Sen will go to meet them”.

Speaking yesterday, Vanna at first stood by his remarks posted on the social media site, which set off an exchange with Siphan, who yesterday announced via his own page that he intended to sue the 30-year-old.

But just after 5pm, the social media activist, whose timeline is filled with posts critical of the government, wrote on his page that he wanted to “apologise publicly for what I have written for affecting Sok An’s reputation”.

Reached following the later post, Vanna said he had spoken to his parents in Cambodia, who were concerned about the ramifications of legal action for the family and who had last year been visited by police enquiring about his activities abroad.

He said he would still stand against “high-ranking officials who abuse their position to do business” but wanted to take down the “rest in hell” remarks. “I apologised because of my family’s safety,” he said from Tokyo, where he works for an energy firm.

“They called me to say they are concerned that if I am sued they will be called to court and they do not want to get in trouble.”

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Council of Ministers spokesperson Phay Siphan speaks to the media in 2015 after an event in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

Reached yesterday, Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said he had tolerated Vanna’s previous attacks on Facebook but said the remarks against Sok An went too far.

Asked what law had been broken, he said his lawyer would decide on the wording of the complaint, but called Vanna’s comment an “insult” and “harassment” against “our culture”, and also cited “defamation”.

“Before, I let him [put messages on] my [FB] page. I respect freedom of expression, but this time it’s not freedom of expression, it’s against our direct culture,” Siphan said, citing the mourning period for Sok An.

Meanwhile, CNRP lawmaker Lim Kimya also issued an official apology to the family of Sok An on Saturday for comments critical of the late minister made in a private, seemingly tapped, telephone conversation with an opposition senator.

Reached yesterday, Kimya said his comments, including saying Sok An “strangled people to be rich”, were a “bit excessive”, though noted he was speaking privately with a friend and that the continued tapping and release of phone conversations was “unacceptable”.

The recording was the latest in what has been a steady stream of covertly recorded phone conversations of political figures seemingly gleaned from phone tapping and leaked online by Facebook user “Seiha”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • Pailin longan winery tries to break through to the big time

    Longan aren’t quite as glamorous as some fruits. They don’t have the star-power of mangos or generate the excitement of a pricey seasonal niche fruit like the pungent durian. Unlike bananas or oranges, which are known and loved everywhere, longan remains a decidedly

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’

  • Debt restructuring over, time to tackle rising NPL ratio

    The Cambodian banking system has just completed a 26-month debt restructuring exercise where scores of loan accounts were revised, classified and provisioned as the rate of non-performing loans inched up, sparking a slight credit risk unease Implemented in April 2020, the Covid-19 debt restructuring measures came

  • Koh Slaket studio resort brings culture with style

    Davitra (Cambodia) Co Ltd’s multi-million-dollar 13ha Koh Slaket studio-cum-resort just east of the capital was inaugurated in the first phase on August 6, providing national and international tourists with a new travel option and job opportunities for locals. The man-made cultural and scenic lakefront getaway