Translated from Khmer and posted online
The rumor that Hun Sen's eldest son Hun Manet is going to be Defense Minister has triggered a general alarm within the Cambodian People's Party [CPP] because there are many CPP army chiefs suitable for this position. Besides, since the power between the Chea Sim and Hun Sen factions has already been clearly defined why there is this rumor about Hun Sen's eldest offspring becoming Defense Minister?
According to the schema of the power sharing arrangement between the Chea Sim and Hun Sen factions, the Ministry of National Defense [MND] belongs to the Chea Sim side while the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces [SCAF] goes to the Hun Sen side because within the military frameworks the SCAF can give orders in battles or carry out military undertakings while the MND takes care of policy only. It is for this reason that Hun Sen has accepted the power within the SCAF frameworks, allowing the Chea Sim faction to take over the MND. As for Ke Kimyan, longstanding army chief of the CPP in the Chea Sim faction, he has agreed to give up his top post in the SCAF in exchange for the post of Defense Minister to be relinquished by Tie Banh because in the CPP Tie Banh is regarded as an old ox waiting to drop dead from the foot-and-mouth disease.
Moreover, because the government led by the CPP wanted to maintain tight diplomatic (as received) relations with Thailand, both politically and militarily speaking, the seat at the MDF has been reserved for Tie Banh for a long time. Now, however, the ties between Thailand and Cambodia, both political and military, have become dormant or moribund since the coup d'etat in Thailand last year or since Thailand was controlled by the generals. Consequently, Tie Banh now seems to be much less worthy to the CPP, in the eyes of both the Chea Sim and Hun Sen factions, because Tie Banh is neither a Chea Sim or a Hun Sen man. He is a member of the wing of Say Phuthang, the second most powerful man in the CPP during the Communist era. Therefore, when the Chea Sim and Hun Sen factions are wrangling over the power in the armed forces, Tie Banh is automatically going to be rejected.
According to a high-ranked CPP official, because of the plan to redistribute the party's internal power within the armed forces, the CPP leaders have all agreed with one another that in the coming term Kun Kim will be Supreme Commander and Ke Kimyan Defense Minister. But suddenly there was a rumor floating around. The recent rumor that Hun Sen's eldest son Hun Manet is going to be the next Defense Minister has shocked people throughout the CPP. However, as the rumor that his son would be the next Defense Minister was shaking up the CPP, Hun Sen diverted attention from this problem by launching an attack against the opposition party instead. He did not talk about internal developments in the CPP for fear that people would know that there is trouble inside his party.
On 14 November, yesterday, Hun Sen claimed at the ceremony distributing diplomas to graduate students that his son is not going to be Defense Minister now but he does not know about the future. Hun Sen admitted that his son does work in the Defense Ministry but for the time being he is not Defense Minister.
Political analysts said that to hear Hun Sen speak like that one gets the impression he has already made all necessary arrangements for his son. It is just that this is not yet the right time; it is going to be later or when the opportunity comes. For this reason, Hun Sen dares to claim that for now his son is not yet Defense Minister but that no one can predicts the future.
Also yesterday Hun Sen attacked a political party he did not mention by name. He only said that this party has a president whose wife is an MP. He said that because of that this party is very nepotistic while he himself is not nepotistic at all. Although Hun Sen did not call this party by name most people understood that he meant the Sam Rainsy Party [SRP].
According to a political analyst, Hun Sen cannot criticize other parties of being nepotistic because his CPP is the most nepotistic of all parties.
Some officials in the CPP also agreed that Hun Sen is the most nepotistic leader because almost all power in the government is wielded by his men. For example, Cabinet Minister Sok An is not only his big guru but also his in-law. Cambodia's top police chief Hok Langdi is also a Hun Sen in-law, and so are a few other government officials.
The CPP officials said that in the past Sok An and Cham Prasith were not on very good terms with each other, but now Cham Prasith has become Sok An's in-law; therefore, Cham Prasith has also become a Hun Sen man. So, when one talks about power in the government, one knows that almost all the civilian, police, and military officials have become Hun Sen's men. And we have not yet talked about Hun Neng, Hun Sen's big brother who has been a veteran governor of Kampong Cham province. Hun Neng was briefly transferred from Kampong Cham according to Chea Sim's conditions or demand but he has since returned to Kampong Cham province.
According to a political analyst, if Hun Sen criticizes the SRP of being nepotistic because the wife of its president is an MP, then he is wrong because the same thing happens in the CPP and the FUNCINPEC [National United Front for an Independent, Neutral, and Peaceful Cambodia] Party as well. In the FUNCINPEC Party a husband is the party's president while his wife is the party's prime ministerial candidate. The CPP even sent a message to congratulate the wife of the FUNCINPEC Party's president for her nomination. The same takes place in the CPP. Hun Sen is Prime Minister and his wife is the chair of the Red Cross. Moreover, the wives of many other CPP leaders and CPP officials also have played important roles.
Therefore, if we talk about power networking in the government, Hun Sen is the most nepotistic. Even some CPP officials have concurred with this assessment. For this reason, Global Witness recently published a report exposing the logging activities in Cambodia that were made possible through large-scale nepotism.
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