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26 years of Hun Sen’s rule

Hun Sen heavily surrounded by bodyguards wherever he goes.
By Khmerization
Source: RFA

Hun
Sen is South East Asia’s longest ruler after the Sultan of Brunei. He
has been Cambodia’s prime minister since 14th January 1985. Some
people, however, has put his rule beyond 1985, extending his rule by 6
years to when he was appointed foreign minister of Cambodia by the
Vietnamese invading forces on 7th January 1979.

Mr. Hun Sen is
native of Cambodia’s eastern province of Kampong Cham, where he was
born in 1951 (he said he was born in 1952). He had limited education
and was a temple boy, a Khmer Rouge soldier, a foreign minister and,
lastly, a prime minister of Cambodia for the last 26 years.

He
has been considered and credited by members of his ruling Cambodian
People’s Party has having steered Cambodia to peace and stability and
led Cambodia to economic growth.

His Cambodian People’s Party
(CPP) lost the 1993 UN-organised election to the royalist Funcinpec
Party, but he refused to give up power and has bullied his way into a
power-sharing to become the Second Prime Minister and then staged a
bloody coup to oust his coalition partner, Prince Norodom Ranariddh,
from power in 1997. Since then, he had over-powered and outsmarted his
rivals within his own party, even significantly weakened a rival
faction controlled by the party President Chea Sim, to stay at the top.

The
CPP President Chea Sim has to fall in line, constantly declaring his
unwavering support for Mr. Hun Sen. And during the 32nd anniversary
celebration of the ouster of the Khmer Rouge regime and the coming to
power of his party on 7th January 2011, Mr. Chea Sim had declared his
eternal support for Mr. Hun Sen to become prime minister of Cambodia
forever. Mr. Hun Sen used to publicly declare that he will be prime
minister of Cambodia until he is 90 years old, another 31 years
considering that he is only 59 years old at the present time.

Despite
unwavering supports from his party, international human rights
officials have expressed regret that Mr. Hun Sen had stayed in power
for too long that led to excesses, inefficiency, human rights abuses,
corruption and his leadership had become more dictatorial by the day.

Mr. Brad Adams, executive director of Asia Chapter of Human Rights Watch, said Mr. Hun Sen ruled Cambodia like the way Singapore has been ruled. The difference is that Singaporean leaders used all the natural resources and national wealth to develop the country, whereas Mr. Hun Sen collected revenues, resources and wealth to put in his own pockets.

Mrs.
Margo Picken, former UNHCR’s human rights representative in Cambodia,
has described Cambodia as a country that is and has been exclusively
ruled by the CPP and Mr. Hun Sen. Mrs. Picken said Mr. Hun Sen is
taking all the credits for the ouster of the Khmer Rouge and he had
publicised the country’s development and poverty reduction while he
personally and his cronies have hoarded and pockets the money exploited
from the country’s natural resources and ignoring all the human rights abuses.

In
fact, Mr. Hun Sen should not have been a continuous prime minister
since 1985. In the UN-organised election in 1993, his party lost the
election, but he refused to accept the outcomes of the election. As a
compromise, Mr. Hun Sen was appointed as a ‘second prime minister’ in
the Funcinpec-CPP coalition government. But that coalition fell apart
and Mr. Hun Sen launched a bloody coup to oust First Prime Minister
Prince Norodom Ranaridhh from power on 5-7 July 1997 that resulted in
more than 100 military officers loyal to Prince Ranariddh being
brutally and ruthlessly executed and killed.

Before the coup, a grenade attack
on 30th March 1997, believed to be orchestrated by Mr. Hun Sen’s
Bodyguard Unit, had killed at least 16 people and left another 140
wounded.

Brad Adams of the Human Rights Watch considered Mr. Hun
Sen a smart leader, but said he has ruled Cambodia for too long that
can make Cambodia facing with dangers in the future. He said Mr. Hun
Sen should give up power and allow a free and fair election in Cambodia
to choose another leader. “He had learned a lot of things. He had been appointed by Vietnam
as the world’s youngest foreign minister (at 26 years old) in 1979
because he was smart and knows how to be flexible and adaptable. He had
learned how to be a leader and
he is not afraid to use his power against his opponents. I hope that he
will use his capability to become a good leader for Cambodia to become
a prosperous country that respects
human rights and democracy. Currently, he had shown that he is a smart
person, but of an individual who is full of negative characters”,
he said.

Brad
Adams said Mr. Hun Sen is not a popular leader, but was able to remain
in power through intimidation and threats and corruption that enable
him to buy off officials who are against him. He said Mr. Hun Sen had
used the ‘divide and rule strategy’ very well to weaken the
oppositions. “I think that Mr. Hun
Sen wants to consolidate his powers and want to end any criticism of
his government. He want to have a single-party system, even though he
pretended to hold election every 5 years because he can control all the
elections that ensure that he automatically wins. He also wants to
control all the country’s wealth and he wanted to change Cambodia into
an authoritarian capitalist system”,
he added.

Mr. Hun Sen became prime minister in 1985 after Prime Minister Chan Si died in a Vietnamese hospital.

Mr.
Pen Sovan, who was jailed for 10 years in a Vietnamese prison and who
was Cambodia’s prime minister from 1979-1981, claimed in 1997 that Mr.
Hun Sen was the one who led a group of soldiers to surround his house
and arrested him and sent him to a prison in Hanoi. He told RFA that
Mr. Hun Sen was able to remain in power because he has never opposed the Vietnamese control and subjugation of Cambodia.

Currently, there is no individuals or parties that can wrestle powers from Mr. Hun Sen. Opposition leader Sam Rainsy has been forced into exile after being convicted in absentia and sentenced to 12 years jail for allegation of destruction of public properties and document
forgery. Prince Norodom Ranaridhh, who had just re-entered politics,
has so far unable to garner enough supports to unseat Mr. Hun Sen.

Human rights groups, government critics and even the U.S ambassador Carol Rodley had claimed that Cambodia had lost at least $500 million a year to corruption. Cambodia is also one of the big debtors and is heavily under the influences of China.

During her visit to Cambodia in November 2010, U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for Cambodia to be a partner with a wide range of countries, and not to be too dependent on one country- China.

Recently,
Mr. Hun Sen has come under heavy criticism for creating a network of
nepotism and cronyism by appointing relatives to some of the top jobs
in the country.

In January 2011, Mr. Hun Sen had appointed his
eldest son, Hun Manet, as Deputy Commander of Royal Cambodian Army
(ground forces) on top of his other duties as Deputy Commander of his
father’s bodyguard unit and commander of the Anti-Terrorism Unit.
Critics said that these appointments are aimed at creating a family
network to enable Mr. Hun Sen to hold on to power.

Many analysts
see Mr. Hun Sen’s political manoeuvrings as a strategy to protect and
to consolidate his power base. They see that many of Hun Sen’s
relatives are now controlling Cambodia. His eldest son, Hun Manet, has
been appointed to several positions,
like being promoted to a major general, appointed deputy commander of
Royal Cambodian Army, deputy commander of Mr. Hun Sen’s Bodyguard Unit
and commander of Anti-Terrorism Unit. One of his daughters, Hun Mana,
has been appointed as director of Bayon TV and Radio and his wife, Bun
Rany Hun Sen, has been appointed as president of the Cambodian Red Cross.

On
top of these, he has married his children to two deputy prime ministers
(Sok An and Yim Chhay Ly), married his daughter to the son of one
former police chief (Hok Lundy) and has become an in-law of powerful
ministers like Moeung Samphan and Minister Phirun.

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Categories: Local News, Politic
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