Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Election results a blow to CPP dynastic plans

Election results a blow to CPP dynastic plans

Prime Minister Hun Sen’s son, Hun Many (centre), waves to CPP supporters during a rally in Phnom Penh this month.
Prime Minister Hun Sen’s son, Hun Many (centre), waves to CPP supporters during a rally in Phnom Penh this month. SRENG MENG SRUN

Election results a blow to CPP dynastic plans

Hun Many, Sar Sokha, Say Sam El, Dy Vichea, Dith Tina, Sok Sokan, Kim Rithy, Cheam Chansophoan: This was the dynasty that was meant to shake up the party; young men groomed by their powerful fathers to step in and bring a message of change.

Instead, every one of the eight scions listed on the ballot lost.

As the ruling Cambodian People’s Party regroups in the wake of Sunday’s election and considers the future, it would be wise to hone rather than abandon this new focus on youth, analysts said yesterday.

“I think that in this mandate, they will need to include capable youth or qualified young people in their system,” said political analyst Kem Ley. “This time, they realise that they are all old, almost all old; they need to hand it to the next generation.”

In many ways, these young, first-time candidates appeared to have been set up to fail. None were given a position higher than four on the list, while half of the group were listed as reserves.

Contrast that to the four provincial governors, all of them well into their 60s, who retired from their positions earlier this year. Listed no lower than third on the candidate rolls, three of them won seats.

“It’s a very aged government to begin with,” pointed out political scientist Carlyle Thayer, emeritus professor at the Australian Defence Force Academy.

“New blood,” he said, could be highly beneficial to changing the ruling party’s way of thinking.

Indeed, the group shows promise. They are highly educated, both here and abroad, and already hold impressive government positions. Many, 31, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s youngest son, holds degrees from top universities in the US and Australia. Sar Sokha, 34, the son of Interior Minister Sar Kheng, is Phnom Penh’s deputy police chief and studied abroad. So too did two-star general Dy Vichea, 32, who is the son-in-law of Hun Sen and son of the late, notorious National Police Chief Hok Lundy.

Whether it is through dynasties or through new members, the long-ruling party stands in need of young blood, but injecting that into the party is no easy task.

A victim of its own system, the CPP’s highly entrenched patronage networks have stymied development. For two decades, as the party has sought to tighten and cut down on factionalism, it has become ever more reliant on a handful of top leaders and their associates.

Such a system has made flexibility, up to the current moment, all but impossible.

But the preliminary results of Sunday’s election suggest the networks may be beginning to crumble.

It’s a reality the party may be considering how to address.

Kong Heang, former governor of Kampong Speu, told the Post yesterday that Many would almost certainly wind up with a seat – that of Senate First Vice-President Say Chhum, who won the first lawmaker position in the province. “Say Chhum will step down in order to continue to work at the Senate,” he said.

The party should continue looking forward, said Thayer, noting that many of the policies on which it had built support over the years had become irrelevant.

“They saved people from the Khmer Rouge, but the vast majority of the population was born after. There’s stability, but more and more people are affected by land disputes ... there have been been counterproductive impacts,” he said. “How do they redefine themselves? They can’t live in the past.”

Sokha, who failed to win a seat in Prey Veng despite having his praises publicly sung by none other than Hun Sen, said senior party leaders would be meeting next week to discuss just that.

“In one week, we will discuss who will enter the National Assembly and who will get other duties besides that,” he said. “Speaking as someone who didn’t win, of course we want more seats, but we accept it. It shows our doing. It’s like a stick that hit us and we have to be alerted.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Siem Reap drain canal now ‘mangrove’ promenade

    A more than half a kilometre long stretch of canal in Siem Reap has been covered and turned into a promenade to attract visitors, said Ly Rasmey, secretary of state at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, on September 16. The new pedestrianised

  • Angkor wildlife, aquarium park still to open October

    The Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium complex about 30km southeast of Siem Reap town with initial total investment of more than $70 million is reportedly still on track for an end-October opening. The park is located on a 100ha plot along National Road 6 in Kbon village, Khchas

  • Final verdicts for Khmer Rouge leaders ‘vital’ for next generation

    Nearly a decade after the commencement of Case 002/02 against Khieu Samphan back in 2014, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is now set to deliver its final verdict for the former Khmer Rouge head of state. The Supreme Court Chamber of the ECCC,

  • Typhoon Noru brings flash floods – 16 dead

    An official warned that that the 16th typhoon of the season, Noru, had brought heavy rains to areas the Mekong River and flooded thousands of homes in the provinces bordering Thailand. As of September 27, the death toll from the flooding had risen to 16. National Committee

  • Defence minister reaffirms Kingdom’s staunch support for One-China policy

    Minister of National Defence General Tea Banh has reaffirmed Cambodia’s unwavering support for the One-China policy. Tea Banh was speaking at the September 20 ceremonial handover of 117 vehicles and other military equipment donated by China’s defence ministry, held at Phnom Chumreay International Military Training

  • Deaths due to ‘lifestyle’ diseases rise in Kingdom

    The Ministry of Health has called on people to pay closer attention to their health to protect themselves from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which it said have caused high rates of deaths in the country. Ministry secretary of state York Sambath made the call at a