Prime Minister Hun Sen’s youngest son, Hun Many, presented a soft line when discussing Cambodia’s opposition in an interview with the Associated Press in Washington, DC, over the weekend, a tone one observer said was likely an effort to dissociate himself from his father’s more hard-line approach.
During the interview, the 33-year-old Many – a lawmaker for Kampong Speu province – declined to deny his interest in someday holding Cambodia’s highest office, saying as he has in the past that all young Cambodians should harbour such aspirations.
However, he did maintain that it was his performance that he would be judged upon, and not his family ties.
“Yes, I was born as his son, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have to perform, I don’t have to deliver,” Many said. “It is not about judging me as Hun Many or [as] the son of the prime minister, but more on what I do.”
Taking a softer stance on the opposition than his father, Many said he believed opposition leader Sam Rainsy – who is currently in self-imposed exile to avoid charges widely believed to be politically motivated – would be allowed to return ahead of the 2018 national elections. He also went on to call the October beatings of two opposition lawmakers, whom he described as friends, “unacceptable”.
Ou Virak, founder of the Future Forum think tank, said that Many’s focus on the future was likely a move to distance himself from some uncomfortable legacies of his father’s heavy-handed rule. But Virak, who has met Many, also said that he believed Many to be genuine.
“I think he’s certainly a lot more liberal than his father, and . . . he knows what to say to an international audience.”