Hun Manet, the fast-rising eldest son of Prime Minister Hun Sen, has received yet another military promotion, adding a third general’s star to his epaulets, while his younger brother Hun Manith has been upped to the rank of general in the RCAF for the first time.
Manet, 35, who some observers see as being groomed to eventually take his father’s place, was promoted from major general to lieutenant general on June 19, while the prime minister’s second son, Manith, 31, graduated from colonel to brigadier general on June 12, according to a Royal decree signed by King Norodom Sihamoni.
Neither Manet, who is director of the Ministry of Defence’s Anti-Terrorism Department, nor Manith are running for office. However, their youngest brother, 30-year old Hun Many, will stand in Sunday’s ballot.
“Hun Sen is planning to further his dynasty,” Cambodian Center for Human Rights president Ou Virak said yesterday, further suggesting the timing of the sub-decree was linked to Sunday’s National Assembly election.
Cambodia National Rescue Party candidate Son Chhay said the siblings’ meteoric rise was emblematic of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party’s culture of patronage within both the military and government.
“It’s not surprising to me, but [the promotions are] too quick,” he said. “Many military officials have worked for 15 years but never received any promotion.”
That complaint was swiftly dismissed by RCAF deputy commander-in-chief General Sao Sokha, who said there was nothing out of the ordinary about the promotions.
“Why [are] they interested only in Hun Manet [and] Hun Manith, while hundreds or thousands [are] also promoted but no one ever cares,” he asked.
Manet, who received his second general’s star in 2011, is also a deputy commander in his father’s personal bodyguard unit. First-time general Manith runs the government’s student land volunteers program.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AMELIA WOODSIDE