The Medias in Cambodia is apparently changed, especially after this last national election when the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), the most influential party, which ruled this country over the last three decades, lost its seats from 90 to 68 over the total 123 seats in the National Assembly. Also, it pushed to free the innocent political prisoners and forced to imprison the government official who committed crimes, according to Kem Ley, the analysts and researcher.
Cambodia has more than 20 TV channels, 160 radio stations, 380 national newspapers and nearly 40 international newspapers, the statistics of the ministry of information, Cambodia. Its population is around 15 million.
Media in Cambodia are divided into the pro – government, anti – government, independent news agencies and the shadow news companies, says Van Vichar, the former senior news reporter of Radio Free Asia (RFA), the anti – government radio in Cambodia.
Given that most of the mass media are strictly controlled by the government, the opposition party uses Facebook, which recently becomes the most influential media, to voice their political opinion.
The Opposition party created a facebook page called “Sam Rainsy,” the name of the party leader with nearly two million Facebook users, who liked and followed this page.
It is the biggest ever result in historic Cambodia poll since 1993 when the opposition party won nearly half of the total seats in the national assembly.
I believe Cambodian young people are the most active population using facebook to engage in public affairs. More than 6.6 million eligible voters, 3.5 million were between 18 to 30 years old. As resulted, the opposition party got more than 2.9 million votes, whereas the ruling party received a dogfight result of about 3.2 million votes, according to National Election Committee statistic.
The public policy set by opposition party during the election campaign, got more attention from middle – aged voters such as, increasing salary for government officials, creating more jobs for fresh graduates and decreasing oil price, as well. When those policies were reached the voters through any means of social media, they vote for that party in hoping for a better change.
In the article published in Comunicar (2012, vol. 20) titled “Media Literacy and Its Use as a Method to Encourage Civic Engagement” composed by Culver & Jacobson, they revealed that new media education platform is very important to cultivate young people’s citizenship. “All programs used technology as a means to an end, not as the ultimate goal. In each program, students learned about new technologies and how to use them. But this use was always in the service of a broader goal, that of helping the students to become more active civic participants. Students learned how to use a particular technology so they could tell their story about a specific.
In Cambodia, in recent years, new media use among young population has increased dramatically not only for entertainment, but also for easier access to public affairs. However, it’s still a great need of media literacy education. For example, when everybody can use new media to spread information, there is a big possibility that both authentic and fake news can appear.
In the recent election, few days before the election, there was a rumor about the leading party government’s president, saying that he was dead because of disease. Immediately, Cambodian People Party, the ruling party declared it was fake information by showing their leader’s face on the TV screen.
Sam Rainsy’s Cambodian National Rescue Party president claimed that his party won election, “At least, at least 63 seat.” The statement was issued on his Facebook page on the day after the election was completely ended. However, the result was officially declared by the National Election Committee, the ruling party was still the only party which led the government.
Rally welcome for the opposition party leaders during the election campaign. Photo: Leanghort SOK