Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Manet pulls out of California event following local backlash

Hun Manet pulls out of California event following local backlash

Hun Manet, Prime Minister Hun Sen's eldest son, pictured at an event in 2014.
Hun Manet, Prime Minister Hun Sen's eldest son, pictured at an event in 2014. Hong Menea

Hun Manet pulls out of California event following local backlash

The prime minister’s eldest son, Hun Manet, has announced he will not attend a Khmer New Year parade in California as planned to avoid potential clashes, following an angry backlash from Cambodians living in the US who oppose his father’s regime.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Manet said he would still visit the US and attend other Khmer New Year events, but would not attend the parade in Long Beach on April 10 to avoid potential violence, with protests planned to coincide with his visit.

“As a conscientious child of Cambodia, I don’t want to see turbid feelings and division between Khmer and Khmer and, particularly, I want to avoid any possible violence … during the parade that would damage the interests of the nation; [therefore] my team and I decided not to attend the parade,” Manet wrote.

“It is not time to show muscles against each other, which shows divisions among Khmers.”

Manet’s planned attendance as the guest of honour at the annual event stirred strong feelings for many in Long Beach, home of a large Cambodian population, many of whom are fervently anti-government and anti-Hun Sen.

Several local city Councillors had vowed to boycott the parade after roughly 200 protesters descended on a Long Beach City Hall meeting last week to express their outrage.

The Cambodian-American Alliance (CAA), a group of Khmer-Americans, has led the charge against the visit, something Manet noted, naming the group’s president Touch Vibol as one of the individuals who campaigned against his invitation by the Cambodian Coordinating Council, another group of Khmer-Americans.

The CAA, unreachable yesterday, have vowed to stage protests in Massachusetts and Washington state, where Manet will also visit.

Manet is head of the Cambodian People’s Party’s Overseas Youth Working Group and travels frequently in a bid to win over the traditionally pro-opposition diaspora.

Yesterday, political analyst Chea Vannath said that given protests against Hun Sen’s attendance at the February US-ASEAN summit in California, there would be little surprise among the CPP about the backlash to Manet’s plans.

“The Cambodian-American community is a very hot potato . . . He’s maybe trying to test the water . . . trying to make a new start with Cambodians overseas as an ambassador of goodwill,” Vannath said.

Political observer Ok Serei Sopheak, meanwhile, said Manet’s avoidance of the parade showed “political maturity”.

“Although any eventual clash would not come from him, nevertheless, if he participates, all the critics would come down against him . . . It would be like putting gasoline on the fire,” Sopheak said. “If there are clashes, nobody wins but the whole of Cambodia loses.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • PM heads to Washington for ASEAN-US special summit

    Regional and international issues and how to bring the ASEAN-US partnership to another level will be discussed at length as Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ministers arrive in Washington, DC, for a special summit on May 12-13. During the trip, Hun Sen and ASEAN

  • National Assembly refutes EU resolution

    The National Assembly (NA) has hit back at a European Parliament resolution condemning the political and human rights situation in Cambodia, calling it another display of the Parliament’s “double standards”. Key points of the resolution include a warning that the Parliament could exclude the

  • Soaring global fuel prices: an opportunity for Cambodia?

    Cambodia is feeling the squeeze from the soaring global coal and oil prices. Electricity du Cambodge (EDC)would certainly be hurting from this reality, and most likely re-assessing its plans to add more coal power stations. EDC buys half of Cambodia’s electricity from plants

  • PM reflects on shoe throwing: Free speech or act of violence?

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 17 questioned whether a man who threw a shoe at him while he was in the US was exercising freedom of expression or if it was an act of hostility. Hun Sen was referring to an incident last week when