Social Media Reporting: Facebook Mourns Kem Ley (Khmer and English)
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A breezy Sunday went off with a tragic bang as news about Dr. Kem Ley’s, death shook the Kingdom. Cambodia’s most prominent political analyst was shot to death while sipping his morning coffee at Star Mart. Heart-breaking cries from his wife and children could be heard all around. Within hours, thousands crowded the gas station to get a glimpse of Kem Ley and to mourn his death, for it became apparent that his death was everyone’s loss.
The news flooded everyone’s newsfeeds as the social media community came together. Kem Ley suddenly became a trending topic and has been up to this day.
Kem Ley giving his last interview for VOA (Source: VOA)
“His ability to eloquently communicate with people about issues facing our country is a rare quality for a person to have.”
Sopheak Heoun, Kem Ley supporter
I got the chance to speak to one of Kem Ley’s admirers, Sopheak Heoun, and just like many people, she was devastated by his death.
“When the news first broke, I was in shock. It’s just too surreal to me. His death is just such a great loss for Cambodia,” she said. “Because he was such an outspoken and straightforward person about social and political issues and was gunned down, his death is almost a symbolic killing for what he stood and advocated for, freedom of expression and access to information.”
Although she had never met Kem Ley, she said she looked up to him, “because he led and encouraged others by doing and setting himself as an example, and his ability to eloquently communicate with people about issues facing our country is a rare quality for a person to have. That way, people in rural areas, who are the most vulnerable and mostly ignored or forgotten, could be informed about what’s going on in the country and ultimately be involved in the development process. And this is something that is not thought of much and not many politicians could do.”
“His death is almost a symbolic killing for what he stood and advocated for, freedom of expression and access to information.”
Sopheak Heoun, Kem Ley supporter
“From what I’ve listened from him, he was very eloquent. I love the way he used analogy to portray complex issues, be that social or political, that even a layperson can understand.”
Despite the huge impact that death has caused, Sopheak is uncertain about what this will mean in the long run.
She said, “From what I’ve seen in the past, conversation, discussion, demand for justice tended to last not very long. I don’t want to sound pessimistic, but I do not have a lot of hope to see sudden change ignited by this event. However, this could be a wake-up call for the post-war baby boomers and the 90s kids who have been so naïve to think that our political discourse has moved beyond the street-fight style.”
Initial Online Reactions
Multiple news pages rushed to the scenes and took videos, broadcasting live on Facebook. The live broadcast on one Facebook page, Social Breaking News-SBN, has been viewed over one million times.
Local news churned out articles online:
(Source: Koh Santepheap)
Soon enough, international news caught wind of Kem Ley’s death, and the news spread worldwide:
(Source: ABC News, US)
(Source: The Guardian, UK)
And just like any other tragedy, people started cooking up conspiracy theories on the internet:
But most of all, people immortalized him through their arts and poetries:
In the midst of it all, one of the most heart-wrenching moments was caught in a picture of a man shedding tears and mourning – what many felt like – the loss of an entire nation:
This piece reflects the views of the author, social media users and people interviewed, and not necessarily that of the Politikoffee Media team and editors.