Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen gestures as he arrives for a family photo with other leaders during the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit just outside Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, July 16, 2016. Photo by Reuters
Hanoi speaks out after Phnom Penh demand punishment against Facebook users, allegedly Vietnamese.
Vietnam on Tuesday spoke out after Cambodia called for punishment of some presumably Vietnamese individuals who criticized Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on his Facebook page regarding maritime disputes.
“Comments made by a group of people, who are presumably Vietnamese, on social media are their personal opinions and do not reflect Vietnam’s point of view,” Le Hai Binh, the Vietnamese foreign ministry spokesman, said in a statement Tuesday.
He added that Vietnam does not condone those who use their freedom of speech to insult others as well as do harm to the good relationship between Vietnam and Cambodia.
Binh made the statement after Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on August 27 condemned comments left on Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Facebook page by presumably Vietnamese nationals blaming the premier for siding with Beijing in territorial disputes in the East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea.
The Cambodian ministry has asked Vietnamese authorities to take measures to find, identify and punish the individuals responsible for the comments, Cambodia Daily reported Monday.
Recently, the Cambodian premier has responded to a number of comments left on his personal page in Vietnamese expressing anger at Cambodia’s stance.
“Vietnam has sacrificed both our blood and money to save the Cambodian people from genocide. Now Hun Sen is turning his back on Vietnam,” one Facebook user wrote. “Hun Sen has been blinded just because China gives money to Cambodia,” another added.
Hun Sen, a fluent speaker of Vietnamese, wrote in English and Khmer, reiterating his opinion that the South China Sea is not Cambodia’s business and that Vietnam is not his political boss, Cambodia Daily reported.
“I hope the Vietnamese government will understand my response to this comment by educating their people not to bother me any more,” the premier wrote.
Vietnam sent troops to rescue Cambodia from the genocide of Khmer Rouge regime and liberated the Phnom Penh capital in January 1979.
In July this year, Southeast Asian nations failed to find common ground on maritime disputes in the South China Sea after Cambodia stuck to its demand the group make no reference to an international court ruling against Beijing in a statement, Reuters reported.
The U.N.-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague has denied China’s sweeping claims in the strategic seaway, through which more than $5 trillion in global trade passes each year.
China claims most of the sea, but ASEAN members the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei all have rival claims.
Previously, the group had ended a meeting in Cambodia in 2012 without being able to issue a joint statement for the first time in its 45-year history.