Cambodian leader says officials must master mobile internet

Cambodia’s long-ruling Prime Minister Hun Sen has declared that he will not appoint anyone to be a provincial governor who is not knowledgeable in the use of social media and smartphones

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Cambodia’s long-ruling Prime Minister Hun Sen declared Monday that he would not appoint anyone to be a provincial governor who is not knowledgeable in the use of social media and smartphones.

Hun Sen, an avid user of Facebook, said at a hospital inauguration in the capital Phnom Penh that officials need to be able to use applications such as WhatsApp, Viber, LINE, Telegram, WeChat and Zoom to effectively do their jobs, such as organizing online meetings.

Hun Sen said recently he has set up groups on WhatsApp and Telegram so he can use his phone to coordinate with various government ministries.

The 69-year-old Hun Sen has led Cambodia since first becoming prime minister in 1985, when what evolved into the internet was still in its infancy and generally available only to academic institutions.

Hun Sen also urged members of his Cabinet, some of whom also entered government service more than three decades ago, to make sure they were adept in the use of smartphones and their apps.

Hun Sen posts comments and photos on his Facebook page almost every day, and also uses the platform frequently to broadcast his speeches and other news events on Facebook Live.

His page also allows people to send complaints about their dealings with the authorities.

Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy, the country’s main opposition leader, have competed in the past over who could attract the most Facebook followers.

Hun Sen’s page currently shows 13 million followers, while that of Sam Rainsy, who has been in self-imposed exile since 2015 to avoid criminal charges he says are politically motivated, lists 5 million.

Hun Sen’s critics, however, have charged that he boosts his number of followers by buying them in bulk from shady operations that provide such services. Hun Sen has denied the allegation.

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