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Hun Sen

Samdech Akeak Moha
Sena Padey Techo

Hun Sen
34th Prime Minister of Cambodia
Assumed office
30 November 1998
Monarch Norodom Sihanouk
Norodom Sihamoni
Preceded by Ung Huot
In office
14 January 1985 – 2 July 1993
President Heng Samrin
Chea Sim
Norodom Sihanouk
Preceded by Chan Sy
Succeeded by Norodom Ranariddh
Second Prime Minister of Cambodia
In office
21 September 1993 – 30 November 1998
Monarch Norodom Sihanouk
Prime Minister Norodom Ranariddh
Ung Huot
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Position abolished
President of the Cambodian People's Party
Assumed office
20 June 2015
Deputy Sar Kheng
Say Chhum
Preceded by Chea Sim
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
Preceded by Kong Korm
Succeeded by Hor Namhong
In office
7 January 1979 – December 1986
Prime Minister Pen Sovan
Chan Sy
Preceded by Ieng Sary
Succeeded by Kong Korm
Personal details
Born Hun Bunal
(1952-08-05) 5 August 1952
Kampong Cham, Cambodia
Political party Cambodian People's Party
Spouse(s) Bun Rany (m. 1976)
Children Kamsot (deceased)
Parents Hun Neang
Dee Yon
Alma mater Hanoi National Political Academy
Religion Theravada Buddhism
Awards Grand Order of National Merit
Military service
Allegiance  Cambodia
Years of service 1970–1999
Rank Major
Commands Democratic Kampuchea – Eastern Region
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Cambodian Civil War (WIA)

Hun Sen (Khmer: ហ៊ុន សែន; born 5 August 1952)[1] is the 34th and current Prime Minister of Cambodia, President of the Cambodian People's Party (CPP), and Member of Parliament (MP) for Kandal. He has served as Cambodia's premier for more than 25 years, making him the longest serving head of government of Cambodia and one of the longest serving leaders in the world. From 1979 to 1986 and again from 1987 to 1990, Hun Sen served as Cambodia's foreign minister. His full honorary title is Samdech Akeak Moha Sena Padey Techo Hun Sen (Khmer: សម្តេចអគ្គមហាសេនាបតី តេជោ ហ៊ុន សែន; meaning "Lord Prime Minister, Supreme Military Commander Hun Sen").[2] Born Hun Bunal, he changed his name to Hun Sen in 1972 two years after joining the Khmer Rouge.

Hun Sen rose to the premiership in January 1985 when the KPRP-dominated National Assembly appointed him to succeed Chan Sy who had died in office in December 1984. The position would be held by Hun Sen until the 1993 elections when the latter lost an election bid. Refusing to relinquish power and after negotiations with the Funcinpec Party, Hun Sen jointly served as Prime Minister with Norodom Ranariddh until a 1997 coup. Ung Huot was then selected to succeed Ranariddh. In 1998, he would lead the CPP to victory in the elections but had to form a coalition government with FUNCINPEC. Hun Sen has since been elected consecutively and is currently serving in his fifth prime ministerial term, and vows to rule until he is 74.[3]

Hun Sen was 32 years, 162 days old when he became prime minister, making him at that time the world's youngest head of government. One of the world's longest-serving leaders, with a reputation as a 'wily operator who destroys his political opponents',[4] Hun Sen is widely viewed as a dictator that has assumed authoritarian power in Cambodia using violence and intimidation and corruption to maintain his power base.[5][6][7] Hun Sen has accumulated highly centralized power in Cambodia, including a 'praetorian guard that appears to rival the capabilities of the country’s regular military units.'[8] The former Khmer Rouge commander has consolidated his grip on power through a 'web of patronage and brute military strength'.[9]


  • Early life 1
  • Political career and premiership 2
  • Corruption and political violence 3
  • Control of media 4
  • Personal life 5
  • See also 6
  • Footnotes 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9

Early life

Hun Sen was born in Kampong Cham, and was the third child of six children to a peasant family. His father, Hun Neang, was a resident monk in a local Wat in Kampong Cham province before defrocking himself to join the French resistance and married Hun Sen's mother, Dee Yon in the 1940s. Hun Neang's paternal grandparents were wealthy landowners of Teochew Chinese heritage.[10][11] Hun Neang inherited some of his family assets and led a relatively comfortable life, as they owned several hectares of land until a kidnapping incident forced their family to sell off much of their assets.[12] Hun Sen left his family at the age of 13 to attend a monastic school in Phnom Penh. When Lon Nol usurped power from Sihanouk in 1970 during a bloodless coup, Hun Nal gave up his education to join the Khmer Rouge.[13] Two years later, Hun Nal changed his name to Hun Sen. In 1974, Hun Sen met his future wife Bun Rany. He was wounded his left eye in battle[14] and had it later removed in 1975, on the day before the Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh.[15] The following year, Hun Sen married Bun Rany.[16]

Political career and premiership

Hun Sen with U.S. President Barack Obama at the Peace Palace, Phnom Penh, on 19 November 2012.

Hun Sen came to power with the Khmer Rouge and served as a Battalion Commander in the Eastern Region of Democratic Kampuchea (the state name during the Khmer rouge government). In 1977 during internal purges of the Khmer Rouge regime, Hun Sen and his battalion cadres fled to Vietnam.[17] Hun Sen became one of the leaders of the rebel army and government that the Vietnamese government sponsored when they prepared to invade Cambodia. When the Khmer Rouge regime was overthrown, Hun Sen was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the Vietnamese-installed People's Republic of Kampuchea/State of Cambodia (PRK/SOC) in 1979. As the de facto leader of Cambodia, in 1985, he was elected as Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Prime Minister, after the death of Chan Sy. As Foreign Minister and then Prime Minister, Hun Sen played a pivotal role in the 1991 Paris Peace Talks, which brokered peace in Cambodia. During this period Prince Norodom Sihanouk referred to him as a "One eyed lackey of the Vietnamese".[18]

In 1987, Amnesty International accused Hun Sen's government of torture of thousands of political prisoners using "electric shocks, hot irons and near-suffocation with plastic bags."[19][20][21]

In a very bold move after the UN monitored elections he refused to step down from the post and negotiated a transitional government agreement that allowed him to remain as co-prime minister but he retained the chairmanship of the CPP. From 1993 until 1998 he was Co-Prime Minister with Prince Norodom Ranariddh. In 1997, the coalition was shaken by tensions between Ranariddh and Hun Sen. FUNCINPEC began to discuss with the remaining Khmer Rouge rebels (with whom it had been allied against Hun Sen's Vietnamese-backed government during the 1980s), with the aim of absorbing them into its ranks.[22] Such a rallying would have rebalanced the military power between Royalists and CPP.

In response, Hun Sen launched the 1997 Cambodian Coup, replacing Ranariddh with Ung Hout as the First Prime Minister and himself still as the Second Prime Minister until the CPP's victory in the 1998 election and thus becoming the country's sole Prime Minister in 1998. During that year the media broadcast him as the Strong Man of Cambodia which he later said was premature, and that the July 1997 coup was merely the government taking action against the paramilitary anarchy that was sponsored and brought to Phnom Penh by Norodom Ranariddh.[23] In an open letter, Amnesty International condemned the summary execution of FUNCINPEC ministers and the "systematic campaign of arrests and harassment " of political opponents.[24]

On 6 May 2013, Hun Sen declared his intention to rule Cambodia until he is 74.[25][26]

The controversial and widely disputed elections of July 2003 resulted in a larger majority in the National Assembly for the CPP, with FUNCINPEC losing seats to the CPP and the Sam Rainsy Party. However, CPP's majority was short of the two thirds constitutionally required for the CPP to form a government alone. This deadlock was overcome and a new CPP-FUNCINPEC coalition was formed in mid-2004. When Norodom Ranariddh was chosen to be Head of the National Assembly and Hun Sen became again sole Prime Minister of Cambodia.

Hun Sen with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2012.

In August 2013, Hun Sen announced he would continue with his aim to form a new government, even if the main opposition tried to block the process. The news came after both sides claimed victory in the 2013 general elections.[27] Also in August,in New York, a major, but largely unnoticed, demonstration held in front of the United Nations (UN) on 19 August by Cambodians and Buddhist monks was a crucial prelude to planned mass demonstrations in Phnom Penh later in September 2013 by opposition groups protesting the July elections and Hun Sen's response. Cambodians in the United States, Canada and elsewhere, joining hundreds of Buddhist Monks, to peacefully protest in front of the United Nations in New York City in opposition to Hun Sen's deployment of tanks and military and security forces in Phom Phenh and what they believed was his unwillingness to share political power with opposition groups and seriously address earlier voting fraud and election irregularities from the July 2013 election.[28][29]

After the 2013 election results, disputed by Hun Sen's opposition, one person was killed and others injured during protests in Cambodia's capital, where a reported 20,000 protesters gathered, some clashing with riot police.[30] Following the opposition's two weeks in a row protests, in response, Hun Sen declares he will not step down from his position, nor will there be a re-election; further adding he was elected constitutionally.[31]

On 7 September 2013, tens of thousands of Cambodians, along with Buddhist monks and opposition groups, including Sam Rainsy's Cambodian National Rescue Party held peaceful mass demonstrations in Phnom Penh to protest the 28 July elections results which they claimed were flawed and marred by voting irregularities and potential fraud. The groups asked the United Nations to investigate and claimed that the elections results were not free and fair.[32][33]

On 3 January 2014, military police open fired at protesters, killing 4 people and injuring more than 20.[34] The United Nations and US State Department have condemned the violence.[35][36] US Congressman Ed Royce responded to the report of violence in Cambodia by calling for Hun Sen to step down and said the Cambodian people deserve a better leader.[37]

On 10 June 2014, Hun Sen made a public appearance and claimed he has no health problems. He warned that if he were to die prematurely, the country would spin out of control and the opposition could expect trouble from the armed forces, saying he is the only person who can control the army.[38]

Corruption and political violence

Hun Sen with opposition leader Sam Rainsy in April 2015.

Some political opponents of Hun Sen accuse him of being a Vietnamese puppet. This is due to his position in the government created by Vietnam while Cambodia was under Vietnamese military occupation and the fact that he was a prominent figure in the People's Revolutionary Party of Kampuchea (now known as the Cambodian People's Party), which governed Cambodia as a one-party state under Vietnamese military occupation from 1979 until elections in 1993. Hun Sen and his supporters reject such charges, saying that he represents only the Cambodian people.

Hun Sen's government has been responsible for the sale of 45% of the total landmass in Cambodia - primarily to foreign investors - in the years 2007-08, threatening more than 150,000 Cambodians with eviction. Parts of the concessions are wildlife protections or national parks even,[39] and the landsales has been perceived by observers, to be the result of government corruption. Already thousands of citizens had fallen victims of forced evictions.[40]

Hun Sen was implicated in corruption related to Cambodia's oil wealth and mineral resources in the Global Witness 2009 report on Cambodia. He and his close associates were accused of carrying out secret negotiations with interested private parties, taking money from those who he would then grant rights to exploit the country's resources. The credibility of this accusation has been questioned by government officials and especially Prime Minister Hun Sen, himself.[41]

Mr Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has placed bans on public gatherings, driven opposition supporters from the site of former protest meetings 'Freedom Park', and deployed riot police to beat protesters and detain union leaders.[42]

Control of media

Hun Sen and his political party, CPP, have for the most part of their rule held near total dominance over the mainstream media. Bayon Television is owned and operated by Hun Mana Hun Sen's eldest daughter. Apsara TV is joint-owned by Say Sam Al, CPP Minister of Environment and son of Say Chhum, CPP secretary and the son of CPP Deputy Prime Minister Sok An. CTN, CNC and MyTV are all owned by Khmer-Chinese tycoon, Neak Okhna Kith Meng, one of the State's "Okhna".[43] Okhna is a title granted by the Prime Minister or the Royal Family to high profile businessmen, and signifies a very close friendship. Okhna are regularly summoned by the Prime Minister to provide funding for various projects.[44]

CPP officials claim that there is no connection between the TV stations and the state, despite the obvious prevalence of Nepotism. However, CPP lawmaker and official spokesman Cheam Yeap once stated "We pay for that television [coverage] by buying broadcasting hours to show our achievements,"[45] indicating that those TV stations are pro-CPP because they have been paid for by the state for what is effectively advertising.

A demand for television and radio licences was one of 10 opposition requests adopted by the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) at its "People’s Congress" in October 2013.[46]

Personal life

Hun Sen is married to Bun Rany. They have 6 children: Kamsot (deceased), Manet, Mana, Manith, Mani, and Mali. Hun Manet is a 1999 West Point Academy graduate and obtained his PhD in Economics at the University of Bristol. In 2010, Manet was promoted Major General in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) and became the Deputy Commander of the Prime Minister's Body Guard headquarters. All three of Hun Sen's sons play big roles in his regime.[47] His older brother, Hun Neng, is a former governor of Kampong Cham and currently a member of parliament.

Although Hun Sen's official birthday is 4 April 1951, his true birth date is revealed to be on 5 August 1952.[1] Hun Sen is also a fluent of the Vietnamese language in addition to his native Khmer, and his fluency in the former have made him a target of criticisms among anti-Vietnamese detractors.[48][49] Hun Sen also speaks some English and began learning the language from the 1990s, but usually converses in Khmer through interpreters when giving formal interviews to the English-speaking press.[50]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Samdech Hun Sen" | Cambodia New Vision Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  2. ^ Khmer-English Dictionary (Headley, 1997)
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Forest (2008), p. 178 "Sino-khmer originaire du district de Krauch Chmar 140, Hun Sèn descend par ses grands-parents paternels d'une famille de propriétaires terriens qui paraît correspondre au stéréotype du Chinois - téochiew ? - implanté en zone rurale, c'est-à-dire aisée mais sans pouvoir administratif. Par sa mère, il descendrait inversement d'une tête de réseau....."
  11. ^ Time (Magazine), Volume 136 (1990), p. 329 Beijing has not softened its hostility toward Hun Sen, but there are subtle signs that China may yet shift its position. Some officials now mention that Hun Sen's grandfather was Chinese, seeming to hint at the possibility of a new....
  12. ^ Harish C. Mehta (1999), p. 15-6
  13. ^ Harish C. Mehta (1999), p. 11, 21
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Harish C. Mehta (1999), p. 32, 35
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Cambodia Criticizes Amnesty International Report The Associated Press. 6 June 1987
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^ Retrieved September 16, 2013
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^ Note: See Botum Sakor National Park for example.
  40. ^
  41. ^ Country for Sale Global Witness
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^
  50. ^ Harish C. Mehta (1999), p. 15, 301

Further reading

  • Alain Forest (2008), Cambodge contemporain, Indes Savantes, ISBN 2846541930 (French)
  • Harish C. Mehta and Julie B. Mehta. 1999. Hun Sen: Strongman of Cambodia. Singapore: Graham Brash Pte Ltd. ISBN 981-218-074-5
  • Elizabeth Becker. 1986, 1998. When the War Was Over: Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge. New York: Public Affairs. ISBN 1-891620-00-2
  • Biography of Hun Sen Cambodia New Vision ~ newsletter of cabinet of Cambodia's Prime Ministerial office

External links

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

Political offices
Preceded by
Chan Sy
Prime Minister of Cambodia
Succeeded by
Norodom Ranariddh
New office Second Prime Minister of Cambodia
Served alongside: Norodom Ranariddh, Ung Huot

Position abolished
Preceded by
Ung Huot
Prime Minister of Cambodia
Preceded by
Ieng Sary
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Kong Korm
Party political offices
Preceded by
Chea Sim
President of the Cambodian People's Party
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Chairperson of the East Asia Summit
Succeeded by
Hassanal Bolkiah
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