He may be one of South East Asia's longest serving prime ministers, but sales of
Hun Sen's new biography "Hun Sen - Strongman of Cambodia" are not breaking
any records in Phnom Penh, with only 20 to 25 copies being sold in the first month
The biography, which hit the shelves early November, is a glossy look at the life
of the boy from Kampong Cham, written by two Indian authors, Harish Mehta and his
wife Julie. Harish Mehta previously wrote "Cambodia Silenced," a look at
press freedom in Cambodia under repressive politics.
The result of 16 hours of interviews with Hun Sen over a period of eight years, "Strongman"
has already drawn criticisms of bias from certain quarters.
The opposition paper Voice of Khmer Youth was less than enthusiastic about the biography.
"If Harish Mehta were not like Hun Sen or if Harish's spirit were not bought
by Hun Sen, his writing the biography would not have been achieved," the paper
The nearly 300-page book certainly presents a highly personalized view of Cambodian
history, with events such as the July 1997 coup and its aftermath dealt with in just
Staff at Monument Books, a distributor for other book outlets in Phnom Penh, said
that although there were not yet any official figures out, they thought that around
twenty copies had been sold in total. However, with a price tag of $23.99, it is
unlikely that many Cambodians will be rushing out to buy it.
Even government officials were keeping mum about the tome. When asked whether the
Prime Minister approved of the book, or whether he had even read it, a spokesman
simply said "No comment."