Marking the latest scion of the Cambodian People’s Party’s leadership to ascend into a prominent public position, the youngest son of late former ruling party president Chea Sim has been promoted to governor of his father’s native Prey Veng province.
Police Lieutenant General Chea Somethy, currently a deputy National Police chief and head of the Interior Ministry’s anti-economic crime department, will replace retiring incumbent Has Sareth, according to a royal decree signed by King Norodom Sihamoni on December 14 and released yesterday.
CPP officials hope Somethy will increase the party’s support base in the province where his father was born, which was narrowly captured by the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party six seats to five in the 2013 election.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said the party’s permanent committee had backed the “capable and smart” Somethy, who is in his 30s, after considering “many” senior officials for the position.
“Truly, we selected the most capable and experienced person to take the position so that he can serve the local people and gain support from them as well,” Eysan said.
“Receiving support from people is a good thing for the government and the party, and it is our hope.”
Un Svanthy, deputy chief at the anti-economic crime department, vouched for his departing boss, calling him “responsible and friendly”.
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said the appointment didn’t trouble the opposition.
“As long as the CPP is unable to solve the problems like corruption, land disputes and others, and are unable to provide social services, CNRP is confident it can win the next national election in 2018”.
Somethy, who did not answer phone calls yesterday, is one of Chea Sim’s six children.
Sim, former president of the Senate, died in June. He was once considered the second-most powerful man in government, though his CPP faction, the largest outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s own supporter base, diminished in power as he grew older.
In recent years, the children of the CPP elite have been rising through the party and the government it controls.
Prime Minister Hun Sen’s sons Hun Manet and Hun Manith, both high-ranking military officers, as well as Environment Minister Say Sam Al, son of CPP secretary general and acting Senate President Say Chhum, were inducted into the party’s central committee in February.
Meanwhile, Hun Sen’s youngest son Hun Many, head of the country’s youth federation, is a lawmaker, as are Sok Sokan and Sar Sokha, the sons of deputy prime ministers Sok An and Sar Kheng, respectively.
“We are in the period where we are actually able to see the changing of the guard, the only problem is that it’s not based on merit, but mostly going to the princelings of the elite; it’s being passed on from the father to the son,” political analyst Ou Virak said yesterday.
“The next generation will be a bit better, though they’ve lived a life of privilege, which is going to be a shortcoming when dealing with issues related to regular Cambodian people.”
Outgoing governor Sareth, who took the position a year ago after serving as governor of Kep, said he was ready to retire, though has yet to receive any formal notice.
Additional reporting by Shaun Turton