Hun Sen Will Reign Until 90
“How can [someone] be the premier until 90? It never happens. My father was 90 when he died.”
Premier Hun Sen, 4 March 2015, The Phnom Penh Post
“When…[Hun Sen and Bun Rany] go anywhere, we [all members of the new working group] must go first to prepare the security there.”
Commander of the Prime Minister Bodyguard Unit (PMBU) General Hing Bun Heang, 6 March 2015, The Cambodia Daily
នាយករដ្ឋមន្ត្រី ហ៊ុន សែន ថ្ងៃទី២៦ កុម្ភ: ២០១៥ វិទ្យុអាស៊ីសេរី
Never happens? Hun Sen may be right. But that does not stop him from taking measures to ensure he rules until 90.
First, he has just formed a working group of 14 of top military and police generals to oversee security for himself and his wife. It is the latest addition to the PMBU that consists of a few thousands of troops and that has been active for decades. There are so many stars in the new working group that their reflection of sunlight would blind even those with sunglasses. It is unclear why the presence of all these fourteen trusted lieutenants are required at all functions where Hun Sen and his wife attend; it seems either Hun Sen can only depend on a few, or his paranoia has reached a new height, or all of the above.
To ensure a long lasting reign, Hun Sen runs an army within an army. It is unclear that Hun Sen has much trust on the army, arguing it must protect his government in the face of threat – not from any external enemies – but from any hostile opposition within. He warns the armed forces that if they refuse his demand, there will be some special force presumably under the command of Hun Sen and Co taking care of the recalcitrant army. Many of the top commanders of the army and police are promoted into the CPP central committee, either as reward for their absolute loyalty and as an insurance policy for a continuing power certainty.
Second, his group of trusted lieutenants which includes a self-proclaimed Hitler disciple are prepared to act like a psychopath; they are ready to shoot dead unarmed civilians who they say are trouble makers. This is to ensure that the spirit of Cambodian people the Khmer Rouge broke some four decades ago will ever remain broken for the sake of peace and stability Hun Sen & Co requires.
Third, beyond the military power, Hun Sen also moves on political front. He has tamed the CNRP to the extent that the latter gives blessing to proposed changes to election laws that by and large will ensure he will have no chance of losing any future elections. With others, the restriction of the NGO participation in the election and all public servants including armed forces and court officials being free to campaign for the CPP, will keep Hun Sen in power while giving the CNRP what it calls “hope” of winning.
Still, even if Hun Sen did not want to rule until he turns 90, he might have no say in the matter. With his claimed legacies that have provided so much riches to his personal interest groups, the likelihood is that Hun Sen & Co will ensure he is breathing under any circumstances. He may have to be on life support until they decide for him that enough is enough, just like what he did to his own father whom he had kept on life support for about a year.
Ung Bun Ang
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