The annual congress of the Cambodian People’s Party ended on a note of self-congratulation yesterday, as Prime Minister Hun Sen said that, contrary to popular belief, his regime had accomplished more than when the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk was in power.
Hun Sen said this had to do with the better coverage Sih-anouk received in the media, as opposed to the relative lack of exposure for the good deeds of the CPP.
“We have [done] many, many things, but our publicity is less,” he told more than 2,000 members of the ruling party at the Koh Pich Center.
“The achievement in the King Father’s regime is less compared to our regime.”
The period Hun Sen was making comparisons with in his speech likely lasted from independence in 1953, when Sihanouk shepherded Cambodia out of France’s colonial clutches, until 1970, when Lon Nol seized power in a coup.
Since Sihanouk died in Beijing last year, the spotlight has been on him, and tributes have flooded media outlets.
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay speculated the premier may have “felt sort of hurt”.
Asked to compare the two regimes, Mong Hay said there was more a feeling of self-reliance in the Sihanouk days, whereas now, everywhere he looked there were foreign don-ations, foreign investment.
“What we have achieved out of our own efforts? Bridges? Roads? Hospitals? Manufacturing industry? Airports? Sihanouk’s slogan was ‘Cambodia helps itself’.
“The sentiments of our people, old and young alike — in our national anthem, we remember the glory of our Angkor empire. I got the same sort of feeling during our king’s funeral. People remember the glory of his era.”
Both Mong Hay and Kem Sokha, president of the Human Rights Party, said complaints about the lack of publicity were unfounded, because the ruling party controlled state-run media.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JOE FREEMAN