Hun Sen

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Samdech Akeak Moha
Sena Padey Techo

Hun Sen
Hun Sen at the World Economic Forum on East Asia in 2010.
34th Prime Minister of Cambodia
Assumed office
30 November 1998
Monarch Norodom Sihanouk
Norodom Sihamoni
Preceded by Ung Huot
In office
14 January 1985 – 2 July 1993
President Heng Samrin
Chea Sim
Norodom Sihanouk
Preceded by Chan Sy
Succeeded by Norodom Ranariddh
Second Prime Minister of Cambodia
In office
21 September 1993 – 30 November 1998
Monarch Norodom Sihanouk
Prime Minister Norodom Ranariddh
Ung Huot
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Position abolished
President of the Cambodian People's Party
Assumed office
20 June 2015
Deputy Sar Kheng
Say Chhum
Preceded by Chea Sim
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
Preceded by Kong Korm
Succeeded by Hor Namhong
In office
7 January 1979 – December 1986
Prime Minister Pen Sovan
Chan Sy
Preceded by Ieng Sary
Succeeded by Kong Korm
Member of Parliament
for Kandal
Assumed office
Majority 261,857 (39.8%)
Personal details
Born Hun Bunal
(1952-08-05) 5 August 1952 (age 67)
Kampong Cham, Cambodia
Political party Cambodian People's Party
Spouse(s) Bun Rany (m. 1976)
Children Kamsot (deceased)
Parents Hun Neang
Dee Yon
Residence Ta Khmau, Kandal
Phnom Penh
Alma mater Hanoi National Political Academy
Religion Theravada Buddhism
Awards Grand Order of National Merit
Website Official website
Military service
Allegiance  Cambodia
Service/branch Banner of the Communist Party of Kampuchea.svg Khmer Rouge
Flag of the State of Cambodia.svg Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Army
Years of service 1970–1999
Rank Major
Commands Democratic Kampuchea – Eastern Region
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Cambodian Civil War (WIA)

Hun Sen (Khmer: ហ៊ុន សែន; born 5 August 1952)[1] is the 34th and current Prime Minister of Cambodia, President of the Cambodian People's Party (CPP), and Member of Parliament (MP) for Kandal. He has served as Cambodia's premier for more than 25 years, making him the longest serving head of government of Cambodia, Asia’s longest-serving autocrat[2] and one of the longest serving leaders in the world. From 1979 to 1986 and again from 1987 to 1990, Hun Sen served as Cambodia's foreign minister. His full honorary title is Samdech Akeak Moha Sena Padey Techo Hun Sen (Khmer: សម្តេចអគ្គមហាសេនាបតី តេជោ ហ៊ុន សែន; meaning "Lord Prime Minister, Supreme Military Commander Hun Sen").[3] Born Hun Bunal, he changed his name to Hun Sen in 1972 two years after joining the Khmer Rouge.

Hun Sen rose to the premiership in January 1985 when the KPRP-dominated National Assembly appointed him to succeed Chan Sy who had died in office in December 1984. The position would be held by Hun Sen until the 1993 elections when the latter lost an election bid. Refusing to relinquish power and after negotiations with the Funcinpec Party, Hun Sen jointly served as Prime Minister with Norodom Ranariddh until a 1997 coup. Ung Huot was then selected to succeed Ranariddh. In 1998, he would lead the CPP to victory in the elections but had to form a coalition government with FUNCINPEC. Hun Sen has since been elected consecutively and is currently serving in his fifth prime ministerial term, and vows to rule until he is 74.[4]

Hun Sen was 32 years, 162 days old when he became prime minister, making him at that time the world's youngest head of government. One of the world's longest-serving leaders, with a reputation as a 'wily operator who destroys his political opponents',[5] Hun Sen is widely viewed as a dictator who has assumed authoritarian power in Cambodia using violence, intimidation and corruption to maintain his power base.[6][7][8] Hun Sen has accumulated highly centralized power in Cambodia, including a 'praetorian guard that appears to rival the capabilities of the country’s regular military units.'[9] The former Khmer Rouge commander has consolidated his grip on power through a 'web of patronage and brute military strength'.[10]

Early life

Hun Sen was born in Kampong Cham, and was the third of six children in a peasant family. His father, Hun Neang, was a resident monk in a local Wat in Kampong Cham province before defrocking himself to join the French resistance and married Hun Sen's mother, Dee Yon in the 1940s. Hun Neang's paternal grandparents were wealthy landowners of Teochew Chinese heritage.[11][12] Hun Neang inherited some of his family assets and led a relatively comfortable life, as they owned several hectares of land until a kidnapping incident forced their family to sell off much of their assets.[13] Hun Sen left his family at the age of 13 to attend a monastic school in Phnom Penh. When Lon Nol usurped power from Sihanouk in 1970 during a bloodless coup, Hun Nal gave up his education to join the Khmer Rouge.[14] Two years later, Hun Nal changed his name to Hun Sen. In 1974, Hun Sen met his future wife Bun Rany. He was wounded his left eye in battle[15] and had it later removed in 1975, on the day before the Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh.[16] The following year, Hun Sen married Bun Rany.[17]

Political career and premiership

Hun Sen with U.S. President Barack Obama at the Peace Palace, Phnom Penh, on 19 November 2012.

Hun Sen came to power with the Khmer Rouge and served as a Battalion Commander in the Eastern Region of Democratic Kampuchea (the state name during the Khmer rouge government). In 1977 during internal purges of the Khmer Rouge regime, Hun Sen and his battalion cadres fled to Vietnam.[18][better source needed] Hun Sen became one of the leaders of the rebel army and government that the Vietnamese government sponsored when they prepared to invade Cambodia. When the Khmer Rouge regime was overthrown, Hun Sen was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the Vietnamese-installed People's Republic of Kampuchea/State of Cambodia (PRK/SOC) in 1979. As the de facto leader of Cambodia, in 1985, he was elected as Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Prime Minister, after the death of Chan Sy. As Foreign Minister and then Prime Minister, Hun Sen played a pivotal role[citation needed] in the 1991 Paris Peace Talks, which brokered peace in Cambodia. During this period Prince Norodom Sihanouk referred to him as a "One eyed lackey of the Vietnamese".[19]

In 1987, Amnesty International accused Hun Sen's government of torture of thousands of political prisoners using "electric shocks, hot irons and near-suffocation with plastic bags."[20][21][22]

In a very bold move after the UN monitored elections he refused to step down from the post and negotiated a transitional government agreement that allowed him to remain as co-prime minister but he retained the chairmanship of the CPP.[citation needed] From 1993 until 1998 he was Co-Prime Minister with Prince Norodom Ranariddh. In 1997, the coalition was shaken by tensions between Ranariddh and Hun Sen. FUNCINPEC began to discuss with the remaining Khmer Rouge rebels (with whom it had been allied against Hun Sen's Vietnamese-backed government during the 1980s), with the aim of absorbing them into its ranks.[23] Such a rallying would have rebalanced the military power between Royalists and CPP.

In response, Hun Sen launched the 1997 Cambodian Coup, replacing Ranariddh with Ung Hout as the First Prime Minister and maintaining his position as the Second Prime Minister, a situation which lasted until the CPP's victory in the 1998 election, after which he became the country's sole Prime Minister. During that year the media broadcast him as the Strong Man of Cambodia which he later said was premature, and that the July 1997 coup was merely the government taking action against the paramilitary anarchy that was sponsored and brought to Phnom Penh by Norodom Ranariddh.[24] In an open letter, Amnesty International condemned the summary execution of FUNCINPEC ministers and the "systematic campaign of arrests and harassment " of political opponents.[25]

On 6 May 2013, Hun Sen declared his intention to rule Cambodia until he is 74.[26][27]

The controversial and widely disputed elections of July 2003 resulted in a larger majority in the National Assembly for the CPP, with FUNCINPEC losing seats to the CPP and the Sam Rainsy Party. However, CPP's majority was short of the two thirds constitutionally required for the CPP to form a government alone. This deadlock was overcome and a new CPP-FUNCINPEC coalition was formed in mid-2004. When Norodom Ranariddh was chosen to be Head of the National Assembly and Hun Sen became again sole Prime Minister of Cambodia.

Hun Sen with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in 2016.

In August 2013, Hun Sen announced he would continue with his aim to form a new government, even if the main opposition tried to block the process. The news came after both sides claimed victory in the 2013 general elections.[28] Also in August,in New York, a major, but largely unnoticed, demonstration held in front of the United Nations (UN) on 19 August by Cambodians and Buddhist monks was a crucial prelude to planned mass demonstrations in Phnom Penh later in September 2013 by opposition groups protesting the July elections and Hun Sen's response. Cambodians in the United States, Canada and elsewhere, joining hundreds of Buddhist Monks, to peacefully protest in front of the United Nations in New York City in opposition to Hun Sen's deployment of tanks and military and security forces in Phom Phenh and what they believed was his unwillingness to share political power with opposition groups and seriously address earlier voting fraud and election irregularities from the July 2013 election.[29][30]

After the 2013 election results, disputed by Hun Sen's opposition, one person was killed and others injured during protests in Cambodia's capital, where a reported 20,000 protesters gathered, some clashing with riot police.[31] Following the opposition's two weeks in a row protests, in response, Hun Sen declares he will not step down from his position, nor will there be a re-election; further adding he was elected constitutionally.[32]

On 7 September 2013, tens of thousands of Cambodians, along with Buddhist monks and opposition groups, including Sam Rainsy's Cambodian National Rescue Party held peaceful mass demonstrations in Phnom Penh to protest the 28 July elections results which they claimed were flawed and marred by voting irregularities and potential fraud. The groups asked the United Nations to investigate and claimed that the elections results were not free and fair.[33][34]

On 3 January 2014, military police open fired at protesters, killing 4 people and injuring more than 20.[35] The United Nations and US State Department have condemned the violence.[36][37] US Congressman Ed Royce responded to the report of violence in Cambodia by calling for Hun Sen to step down and said the Cambodian people deserve a better leader.[38]

On 10 June 2014, Hun Sen made a public appearance and claimed he has no health problems. He warned that if he were to die prematurely, the country would spin out of control and the opposition could expect trouble from the armed forces, saying he is the only person who can control the army.[39]

Corruption and political violence

Some political opponents of Hun Sen accuse him of being a Vietnamese puppet.[19] This is due to his position in the government created by Vietnam while Cambodia was under Vietnamese military occupation and the fact that he was a prominent figure in the People's Revolutionary Party of Kampuchea (now known as the Cambodian People's Party), which governed Cambodia as a one-party state under Vietnamese military occupation from 1979 until elections in 1993. Hun Sen and his supporters reject such charges, saying that he represented only the Cambodian people.[citation needed]

Hun Sen's government has been responsible for the sale of 45% of the total landmass in Cambodia - primarily to foreign investors - in the years 2007-08, threatening more than 150,000 Cambodians with eviction. Parts of the concessions are wildlife protections or national parks even,[40] and the landsales has been perceived by observers, to be the result of government corruption. Already thousands of citizens had fallen victims of forced evictions.[41]

Hun Sen was implicated in corruption related to Cambodia's oil wealth and mineral resources in the Global Witness 2009 report on Cambodia. He and his close associates were accused of carrying out secret negotiations with interested private parties, taking money from those[further explanation needed] who would be grant rights to exploit the country's resources in return. The credibility of this accusation has been questioned by government officials and especially Prime Minister Hun Sen, himself.[42]

Mr Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has placed bans on public gatherings, driven opposition supporters from the site of former protest meetings 'Freedom Park', and deployed riot police to beat protesters and detain union leaders.[43]

Control of media

Hun Sen and his political party, CPP, have held near total dominance over the mainstream media for the majority of their rule. Bayon Television is owned and operated by Hun Mana Hun Sen's eldest daughter. Apsara TV is joint-owned by Say Sam Al, CPP Minister of Environment and son of Say Chhum, CPP secretary and the son of CPP Deputy Prime Minister Sok An. CTN, CNC and MyTV are all owned by Khmer-Chinese tycoon, Neak Okhna Kith Meng, one of the State's "Okhna".[44] Okhna is a title granted by the Prime Minister or the Royal Family to high profile businessmen, and signifies a very close friendship. Okhna are regularly summoned by the Prime Minister to provide funding for various projects.[45]

CPP officials claim that there is no connection between the TV stations and the state, despite the obvious prevalence of Nepotism. However, CPP lawmaker and official spokesman Cheam Yeap once stated "We pay for that television [coverage] by buying broadcasting hours to show our achievements,"[46] indicating that those TV stations are pro-CPP because they have been paid for by the state for what is effectively advertising.

A demand for television and radio licences was one of 10 opposition requests adopted by the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) at its "People’s Congress" in October 2013.[47]

Personal life

Hun Sen is married to Bun Rany. They have 6 children: Kamsot (deceased), Manet, Mana, Manith, Mani, and Mali. Hun Manet is a 1999 West Point Academy graduate and obtained his PhD in Economics at the University of Bristol. In 2010, Manet was promoted Major General in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) and became the Deputy Commander of the Prime Minister's Body Guard headquarters. All three of Hun Sen's sons play big roles in his regime.[48] His older brother, Hun Neng, is a former governor of Kampong Cham and currently a member of parliament.

Although Hun Sen's official birthday is 4 April 1951, his true birth date is revealed to be on 5 August 1952.[1] Hun Sen is fluent in Vietnamese, in addition to his native Khmer. His fluency in Vietnamese has made him a target of criticism among anti-Vietnamese detractors.[49][50] Hun Sen also speaks some English and began learning the language from the 1990s, but usually converses in Khmer through interpreters when giving formal interviews to the English-speaking press.[51]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Samdech Hun Sen" | Cambodia New Vision Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  2. "Politics in Cambodia: Same old, same old: A young country is saddled with politicians fighting old battles". The Economist. 27 February 2016. Retrieved 28 February 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Khmer-English Dictionary (Headley, 1997)
  4. Vandenbrink, Rachel (6 May 2013). "Hun Sen Says He Will Stay in Power Until He's 74". Radio Free Asia. Retrieved 16 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Australia asks Cambodia to take asylum seekers amid violent crackdown". The Sydney Morning Herald. 24 February 2014. Retrieved 25 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Brad Adams (18 September 2012). "Speak Truth to Cambodia's Dictator". The Financial Times. Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 29 September 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Tenth out of Ten". The Economist (Banyan, Asia). 17 November 2012. Retrieved 29 September 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Marshall, Andrew R.C.; Thu, Prak Chan (18 September 2013). "Analysis: Punished at the polls, Cambodia's long-serving PM is smiling again". Reuters. Retrieved 29 September 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Thomas Fuller (5 January 2014). "Cambodia Steps Up Crackdown on Dissent With Ban on Assembly". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 January 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Cambodia: Wave of discontent". 28 July 2014. Retrieved 29 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Forest (2008), p. 178 "Sino-khmer originaire du district de Krauch Chmar 140, Hun Sèn descend par ses grands-parents paternels d'une famille de propriétaires terriens qui paraît correspondre au stéréotype du Chinois - téochiew ? - implanté en zone rurale, c'est-à-dire aisée mais sans pouvoir administratif. Par sa mère, il descendrait inversement d'une tête de réseau....."
  12. Time (Magazine), Volume 136 (1990), p. 329 Beijing has not softened its hostility toward Hun Sen, but there are subtle signs that China may yet shift its position. Some officials now mention that Hun Sen's grandfather was Chinese, seeming to hint at the possibility of a new....
  13. Harish C. Mehta (1999), p. 15-6
  14. Harish C. Mehta (1999), p. 11, 21
  15. Caroline Green; Lon Nara (6 December 2002). "Disabilities are not sins, Cambodia's disabled say". The Phnom Penh Post. Retrieved 13 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Mehta, Harish; Julie Mehta (2013). Strongman: The Extraordinary Life of Hun Sen. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions (Time Publishing Limited). ISBN 9789814361293. Retrieved 30 January 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Harish C. Mehta (1999), p. 32, 35
  18. David Robert Jr. (7 December 1989). "Cambodia's Hun Sen Is Himself Khmer Rouge" (Readers Opinion). The New York Times. Retrieved 13 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. 19.0 19.1 Shenon, Philip (15 November 1991). "Joyous Sihanouk Returns to Cambodia From Exile". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. unknown (4 June 1987). "Cambodia is Said to Torture Prisoners". The Boston Globe. HighBeam Research. Retrieved 13 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Amnesty International (June 1987). "Kampuchea: Political Imprisonment and Torture". London.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Cambodia Criticizes Amnesty International Report The Associated Press. 6 June 1987
  23. Kamm, Henry (1998). Cambodia. New York: Arcade Publishing, Inc. pp. 237–240. ISBN 1-55970-433-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "Hun Sen's profile". The Cambodia Daily News. 28 November 2011. Retrieved 19 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Secretary General Pierre Sane (11 July 1997). "Open letter to Second Prime Minister Hun Sen". Amnesty International. Retrieved 13 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. NEOU, VANNARIN (7 May 2013). "Hun Sen Reveals Plan to Win 3 More Elections, Retire at Age 74". The Cambodia Daily. Retrieved 16 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Thul, Prak Chan (6 September 2013). "As protest looms, Cambodia's strongman Hun Sen faces restive, tech-savvy youth". Reuters UK. Retrieved 14 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. Prak Chan Thul (2 August 2013). "Defiant Hun Sen says to form government despite Cambodia poll row". Reuters.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. "Cambodia, Buddhist Monks' Rally at United Nations: Prelude to Upcoming Phnom Penh Demonstrations - Business Wire". 6 September 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. Retrieved September 16, 2013
  32. Kuch Naren. "Hun Sen Says He Will Not Resign, or Call Election". The Cambodia Daily.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. Thul, Prak Chan (8 September 2013). Martin Petty; Michael Perry, eds. "Cambodia opposition rallies in push for poll probe". Reuters. Retrieved 14 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  34. unknown (6 September 2013). "Cambodia, Buddhist Monks' Rally at United Nations: Prelude to Upcoming Phnom Penh Demonstrations". Businesswire. Retrieved 14 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  35. "Workers, Police Clash, Leaving 3 Dead in Cambodia". VOA. 3 January 2014. Retrieved 17 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  36. "សហរដ្ឋអាមេរិកថ្កោលទោសការប្រើប្រាស់អំពើហិង្សានៅកម្ពុជា". វីអូអេ.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  37. "United Nations News Centre". UN News Service Section. 3 January 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  38. Sok Khemara (7 January 2014). "US House Foreign Affairs Chair Calls for Hun Sen to Step Down". Voice of America. Retrieved 17 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  39. "Cambodian PM Says Opposition Will Rue His Death". Associated Press. 10 June 2014. Retrieved 15 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  40. Note: See Botum Sakor National Park for example.
  41. Adrian Levy; Cathy Scott-Clark (26 April 2008). "Country for sale". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  42. Country for Sale Global Witness Archived 8 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  43. "Labour activism in Cambodia". The Economist. Retrieved June 5, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  44. Alex Willemyns. "Opposition's Demand for TV Access Crucial, Futile - The Cambodia Daily". The Cambodia Daily.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  45. Brinkley, Joel (2011). Cambodia's Curse. New York: PublicAffairs. ISBN 9781586487874.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  46. Kuch Naren. "CNRP Launches Online TV to Break CPP's Media Stranglehold". The Cambodia Daily.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  47. Ponniah, Kevin (7 November 2013). "CNRP has view to TV licence". The Phnom Penh Post. Retrieved 14 November 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  48. "Not quite the usual walkover". The Economist.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  49. Kuch Nara (26 May 2014). "Hun Sen Warns Of Doomsday Scenario if CPP Defeated". The Cambodia Daily. Retrieved 2 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  50. Ngọc Hà (27 December 2013). "Thủ tướng Hun Sen nói tiếng Việt để chia sẻ hồi ức". Vietnam Television. Retrieved 2 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  51. Harish C. Mehta (1999), p. 15, 301

Further reading

External links

Media related to Hun Sen at Wikimedia Commons

Political offices
Preceded by
Chan Sy
Prime Minister of Cambodia
Succeeded by
Norodom Ranariddh
New office Second Prime Minister of Cambodia
Served alongside: Norodom Ranariddh, Ung Huot

Position abolished
Preceded by
Ung Huot
Prime Minister of Cambodia
Preceded by
Ieng Sary
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Kong Korm
Party political offices
Preceded by
Chea Sim
President of the Cambodian People's Party
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Chairperson of the East Asia Summit
Succeeded by
Hassanal Bolkiah