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Youth Activist Says Social Media Has ‘Power’ in Cambodia

Cambodian men are using internet at a coffee shop in Phnom Penh, file photo.
PHNOM PENH - Social media has the power to help Cambodia correct some of its social ills, including corruption and the abuse of power, a youth activist says.

Tim Malay, head of the Cambodian Youth Network, told “Hello VOA” on Monday that YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, growing rapidly in popularity, help people share information on politics, economics, government and other important realms of daily life.

“When more and more people know the information and others start talking about it, those committing the wrongdoings must be embarrassed and thus change their attitudes,” he said.

More than 740,000 Cambodians now have Facebook accounts, according to the tracking site Much of the Internet use enjoyed by Cambodians is for social and entertainment purposes.

But Malay said Monday that the potential for more useful content is there, including the sharing, through video and photos, of rights abuses and other wrongdoing. Police violence against citizens, petty extortion at parking lots and other everyday abuses of power can be documented and shared, he said.

Youth Activist Says Social Media Has ‘Power’ in Cambodia
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For now, none of that has led to any official action, he said. But that could change.

Meanwhile, some fear that the freedom of information on the Internet is already facing challenges.

“If more and more bad actions of the government are posted online,” said one caller to the show Monday, “then they could consider creating a cyberlaw to suppress that.”