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

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Artificial insemination takes herd from 7 to 700

    Some farms breed local cows or even import bulls from a broad for the purpose of breeding heavier livestock for meat production. One Tbong Khnum farmer has found a more efficient way. Hout Leang employs artificial insemination to fertilise local cows. Thanks to imported “straws”

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,

  • Capital-Poipet express rail project making headway

    The preliminary results of a feasibility study to upgrade the Phnom Penh-Poipet railway into Cambodia’s first express railway indicate that the project would cost more than $4 billion and would take around four years to complete. The study was carried out by China Road and

  • Thai boxers to join SEA Games’ Kun Khmer event

    The Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) – together with the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) and Khmer Boxing Federation – have achieved a “great success” by including Kun Khmer in the upcoming biennial multi-sports event on its home soil for the first time, said a senior

  • Bullets to bracelets: Siem Reap man makes waste from war wearable

    Jewellery is often made from valuable gemstones like emeralds or diamonds and precious metals like gold or silver, or valueless things like animal horns. But a man in Siem Reap has approached the manufacture of delicate pieces from a different angle. His unique form of