Prime Minister Hun Sen’s June order that land be cut from economic land concessions and returned to displaced villagers – a move that has alternately inspired gratitude and scepticism – now has a high-profile public face: one of his sons.
Hun Manith, deputy chief of Hun Sen’s cabinet and his third-oldest child, was appointed deputy secretary-general of the National General Secretariat for Land Disputes, according to an entry in the Royal Book released on June 15.
The appointment makes Manith second-in-command of the agency, which was tasked by the premier with measuring and granting land to people displaced by land disputes.
Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann yesterday expressed hope that Manith would help displaced villagers, but added that a lot of young Cambodians had the experience and ability to hold such positions, and lamented the fact that such opportunities in Cambodia were in the hands of one individual.
“I would like to wish that those obtaining new positions will serve the nation and find justice for citizens suffering from defending their little land,” he said.
Manith’s appointment comes on the heels of a handful of recently signed economic land concessions that led some to question the sincerity of Hun Sen’s moratorium on the granting of ELCs.
Am Sam Ath, a senior investigator with Licadho, expressed measured support for Hun Manith’s appointment.
“We hope the deputy secretary-general of the National General Secretariat for Land Disputes is effective in resolving land issues, and is what the citizens need,” he said.
Chan Soveth, senior investigator for the rights group Adhoc, expressed concern over the military-style uniforms of the youths charged with assisting in the measurement of villagers’ land, which he said might frighten some.
But he approved of Hun Sen telling volunteers not to ask the people which party they voted for, and wished Hun Manith well in his new role.
Hun Manith declined to comment on his new title.
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