SECOND Prime Minister Hun Sen kicked off 1996 with a round of visits around Cambodia's
countryside, touring his privately-funded community development projects valued at
around $2 million.
The past 10 days saw Hun Sen visit Svay Reang, Prey Veng, Kompong Cham and Takeo,
inaugurating schools and a new park named after him.
Altogether, 79 school buildings have or are being constructed under his name in various
Each costs a standard price of $22,000, Hun Sen has said, producing a total of around
A number of health-care centers, roads and bridges have been built, and others are
planned, while Hun Sen also sponsors a broad range of activities in two Hun Sen Development
Hun Sen said he has no money for these projects, except to occassionally provide
a small amount of cash to "top-up" donated funds, but relies on contributions
from "charitable" or "humanitarian" people.
They include influential business people, Cambodian and foreign, such as the Thai
Boon Rong company, the Holiday International Hotel and the Naga Resorts Co.
The centerpiece of Sen's recent public appearances was the unveiling of the $383,838
Samdech Hun Sen Park in central Phnom Penh on Jan 7.
The Holiday hotel contributed $100,000 toward the park, Thai Boon Rong and Naga contributed
$50,000 apiece, and a number of other businesses - including the Kim Hap Import-Export
Co, the Cambodian Tobacco Co, Anco Brothers Co and Sokimex - gave between $1,000
A former squatter area, the immaculate park was built by the Phnom Penh Municipality
on Sen's orders, to provide a relaxation area for civil servants, foreign guests
According to a report by a Hun Sen aide, the 36,508 sqm park project includes 9,247
m2 of grass, 9,900 m2 of road, a sewage pumping station and 108 sewage wells and
72 electric lights.
A crowd of 15,000 people turned out for the inauguration.
As Hun Sen delivered his speech, his private helicopter gave a courtesy ride to a
television crew from the government-owned TVK to film the event from the sky.
On the left corner of the park, two musical bands kept the occasion alive with Khmer
One of the bands comprised some of Cambodia's most famous comedians and entertainers,
with the words "Bodyguards of Samdech Hun Sen" painted on their loudspeakers.