HUN SEN'S 18-year-old son Manet - now being groomed at the West Point military academy
in the United States - has got the manner of being every bit the policitian his father
The second Prime Minister has made little secret that Manet has got an important
future planned ahead of him.
"You will continue when I am gone," Hun Sen told Manet recently during
a discussion about Hun Sen's backing of the rights of the villagers of Kraingyov
to demonstrate against a local newspaper. "Don't leave the people of Kraingyov,
In Manet, Hun Sen has an heir already canny in the rhetoric of politics and diplomacy,
now being further honed under the discipline of America's most presitgious military
Manet talks about the necessity of having had to sacrifice a lot, in just two months,
to gain the required English, mathematic and physical skills to be accepted in West
"I was excited when I heard I had passed the [West Point] examination,"
he said, adding however that it sank in later - as it did for most of the new students
- that West Point had "strict discipline unlike any other ordinary schools."
Manet said he was learning military skills and pursuing an economics degree.
He talked - as smoothly as a politician three times his age - about his knowledge
being applied to "fill the shortages we may have to strengthen our army"
and "joining other people to rehabilitate our country."
There are only seven new forign students at West Point this year, and already 100
of the 1,100 total have dropped out of college, usually unable to cope with the disciplined
Manet has plenty of reason to stick it out. Hun Sen's advise to him was "to
try hard, to struggle in study in order to be successful... because if we are not
patient even with difficulties in study we won't be able to overcome problems in
Manet remembered calling Hun Sen "uncle" as a boy because he did not recognize
his father after years of separation following Hun Sen's escape from the Khmer Rouge.
"This is not a painful story for my family alone. People throughout the country
suffered from that also."
Manet deftly dodged questions about the US army ("perhaps I can not answer fairly
because we only see a small part of it in the school...") and was diplomatic
about life in the States. "The living standard was high," he said, "but
the US also has some problems in their economy... I've seen on TV people discussing
a lot about the budget and there are some differences among them."
Similarly about the future reforms in the Cambodian army, Manet said that talking
about it now "may cause improprieties in the future when we have a deeper experience..."
When asked about any message he might like to pass on to other Cambodians, Manet's
reply was right out of his father's own book. "In my opinion, no-one was born
smarter than the other. Being smart or not depends on us spending energy and our
mind in order to make the best of ourselves. If we want to achive something, it's
not just having it in our heart, we must struggle to reach our goal.
"Struggle alone is not enough unless we realize what we're struggling for, step-by-step
toward our goals."
When asked whether he looked up to his father's example, Manet said he would do his
best to serve his country. "When I arrived in America and glanced back to our
country, it was so painful. For our country to see cultural and economic progress,
all the people must work together..."