Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 27 indicated that he would only accept criticism of his aspirations to have his eldest son succeed him should Lieutenant General Hun Manet assume power directly without an election.
“If I were to transfer power to my son without an election like some have insinuated, then I would accept it,” he said in response to a question posed at the 27th International Conference on the Future of Asia organised by Nikkei in Tokyo, Japan, themed “redefining Asia’s role in a divided world”.
He said that the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has made its official decision concerning the future prime ministerial candidate, and that Lieutenant General Manet would enter the fray at some point, but “certainly not” in the general election next year.
Lieutenant General Manet is the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) deputy commander-in-chief and Royal Cambodian Army commander. He was officially endorsed by the CPP in late December to run for the top job “in the future”.
“As for when that will be, like I’ve said, it’ll depend on the situation. And those who are critical, please go ahead and be critical – we’ll be here holding an election. Were the CPP to lose the election, not only would Hun Manet disappear, but so would Hun Sen,” the prime minister said.
He reiterated that Lieutenant General Manet was not brought up to be a “leader of a gang of thieves” and is suitable for the prime ministerial post, rhetorically asking if there was a father on this Earth who does not wish for their children to become big shots.
“Others do their best for their children to make it big … Why wouldn’t I have the right to support my son in his pursuit of this or that position? Am I deprived of this right or what?
“Whether he succeeds me or not, doesn’t that hinge on whether the people vote for him, or is that not the case? If they were to vote for him, it wouldn’t be an arbitrary power transfer, but through the support from the people,” he said.
However, were Lieutenant General Manet to become prime minister through the electoral process, “I wouldn’t be able to accept such criticism and I’d want others to think twice before talking to me. Do you want your children to flourish in their trade, or hold decent jobs?” he added.
“I am a human being like everyone else, and if other humans want their children, grandchildren, brothers and sisters to have good jobs, why wouldn’t I have this right? I must have this right.”