Saturday, 12 July 2014

Hun Many: To Do or Not to Do?

“This move [of Hun Many’s ‘Youth in the Cause of Motherland’] is indeed driven by our belief that everyone in the society shall not ask what his nation could do for him, but what he could do for his nation. I myself have been observing this, and I’m sure my group members have also been observing this philosophy too.”

Hun Many, 16 May 2012, The Phnom Penh Post

“Being the assistant to understand and fulfill the need of the prime minister is not different from being a lawmaker to understand and fulfill the need of the people.”

Hun Many, 13 April 2013, The Cambodia Herald

“I am a politician in the making I have to admit it. So but I think the apple does not fall far from the tree.”

Hun Many, 6 June 2014, Channel News Asia TV

“[Would you mind being Cambodia’s prime minister one day?] Wow… Thank you for this question. I have not thought [about it]… not yet.”

Hun Many, 6 June 2014, Channel News Asia TV

Of course, Hun Many is put in a position where he could make a difference in areas he says need improving: democratisation, election, rule of law, corruption, etc... The question is: will he practice what he preaches – the Kennedy’s quote, “Ask not what your country can do for you…”?

On the balance, Hun Many may find it most difficult to do what he says for the country. First, he is mistaken that understanding and fulfilling the need of his PM father is the same as understanding and fulfilling the people’s need. A prime minister and the people are not one. The people stay put forever when prime ministers come and go – sooner or later. Their needs are different, and often conflicting. A prime minister can send his own children overseas for decades of top education and simultaneously hauls away in caged trucks the people’s children who on average manage only 5.8 years of schooling – a far cry from 9 years the Constitution stipulates.

Second, Hun Many claims he is an apple that does not fall far from the tree. This means JFK’s doing “for” the country, which requires drastic changes to the current doing “to” the country under his father’s blessing, would be tough for him. Would he turn against what his father stands for by dismantling patronage networks that have enriched so much power and prosperity for his family and their personal interest groups? He could rather indulge in superficial changes that only preserve, if not strengthening, the status quo he says is flawed.

Third, circumstances that Hun Many could really do something for the country may never arrive. If beneficiaries of Hun Sen’s doing “to” the country believe his father that the sky will fall upon his death, they will resort to making him breathe even on a life support. The man vows he will live past 93 years old. All these point to a possible waiting time of at least 30 years for Hun Many. By then, it may be that all the flaws he identifies now may grow; or conservatism that tends to come with old age will set in; or his comfort zone could then be too cosy to break out.

Fourth, there is a family hurdle Hun Many would have to jump over before calling the shots – he is not the only child in the family. Again, he may learn a few plots to become the top dog from his father who is an enthusiast of a Chinese literature epic, “The Three Kingdoms”. This will be a hard struggle as the neighbour alien who is his father’s power base has already begun grooming his eldest brother as their next figurehead. Or, a possible win-win outcome, as his father would say, would be a split of the Kingdom of Wonders into three pieces to accommodate all ambitions, including the eternal friend’s long-term design for Cambodia.

Hun Many may have learned by heart the new right lyrics, but could be stuck in the same old tune.

Ung Bun Ang


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