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PM Orders Facebook Surveillance Over Reported Rumors of ‘Fatal Election Ink’


Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, right, greets villagers as he arrives for an inauguration ceremony of a road funded by Japan for its official use at Kdey Takoy village, outside of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, March 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Hun Sen has said that people posting online messages online saying they will not vote in the election on July 29 could face legal action.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday ordered officials to surveil Facebook for evidence of anti-election campaigning, including rumors he claimed, were being spread online that ink used to mark the fingers of voters could be fatal.

Speaking at the opening of a bridge in Phnom Penh on Monday, Hun Sen said unnamed non-governmental organizations had spread false information via Facebook that there were two separate pots of ink being used at polling stations: one normal one and another that would lead to the death of anyone who used it.

“I’ve received information considering a crime this evening. They said that on election day there will be two bottles of ink: the first bottle is normal ink, and the second bottle will cause death in 24 hours,” he said.

“We clearly know who you are. If you don’t stop committing this crime, you will be subject to imprisonment,” he added.

Kirth Chantharith, a police spokesman, could not be reached for comment, while Khieu Sopheak, an interior ministry spokesman, declined to comment.

Hang Puthea, National Election Committee (NEC) spokesman, said he had not heard the rumor, but urged people to be cautious and only trust information regarding the election disseminated by the NEC.

“Any information not coming from the NEC is not real. The NEC is an institution that loves and respects the people who love religion and king,” he said. “The NEC is properly functioning. It will not allow any ink to harm the health of the people.”

Prior to the 2013 election, two NGOs -- Comfrel and Adhoc -- claimed to have evidence that the ink used in the election could be washed off, allowing Cambodians to vote more than once, but did not claim the ink was fatally poisonous.

Korn Savang, a monitoring officer at Comfrel, said he had not heard the supposed rumor that the ink could be fatal and said Comfrel was not involved in spreading any such rumor, adding that he supported prosecution for people spreading such false information.

Hun Sen has said that people posting online messages online saying they will not vote in the election on July 29 could face legal action.

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