Prime Minister Hun Sen has promoted his wayward nephew Hun Chea to brigadier general in the National Police, despite a less than sterling reputation as an upholder of law and order.
Chea was promoted to the role under a Royal Decree published by the Council of Ministers on October 19, which was signed by Senate President Chea Sim on September 12.
“Hun Sen, prime minister of Cambodia, must implement the decree from the day of its signing,” it reads.
Chea has had several run-ins with the law himself over the years.
In December 2010, Hun Sen made an unusual public appeal for Chea to return home after his uncle accused him of cheating on his wife and involvement with drugs. He also called on hotel owners to bar Chea from staying on their property.
“According to the investigation, now [Hun Chea] is staying in a hotel with a woman, and there is a group of drug [users] involved with him,” Hun Sen said at the time.
“[I] will not tolerate involvement in [drugs] . . . There must be law enforcement, it doesn’t matter if he is the nephew of the prime minister.”
Kirt Chantharith, spokesman of the National Police, declined to comment on the promotion yesterday, saying he was unaware of the decree.
Khieu Sopheak, spokesman at the Ministry of Interior, could not be reached.
Am Sam Ath, senior technical officer of Licadho, said it was “nothing strange” for a powerful man with family connections to the elite to get promoted despite a questionable past.
Chea is the second of the prime minister’s relatives to receive promotions in the past few months. In August, Dy Vichea, a son-in-law to Hun Sen and the late police chief Hok Lundy, was appointed to the crucial role of director of central security. The announcement was made just days after Hun Sen had said he would refrain from favouritism towards his family in assigning official positions.
In 2002, charges against Chea and Hun To, another nephew of Hun Sen, were dropped after there was insufficient evidence linking the two men to a shoot-out at a beer garden that injured two people.