Nearly 40 years of Mr. Hun Sen leading Cambodia
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Nearly 40 years of Mr. Hun Sen leading Cambodia

(Dan Tri) – Mr. Hun Sen officially left his position as prime minister today, after nearly 4 decades of leading Cambodia to develop.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (Photo: AFP).

On August 22, the Cambodian National Assembly approved Dr. Hun Manet, the eldest son of Mr. Hun Sen, as the country’s new prime minister.

`I hope people will understand when I announce that I will not continue to be prime minister,` Mr. Hun Sen said on July 26.

The above announcement is not the end of Mr. Hun Sen’s career.

But although his political career has not ended, Mr. Hun Sen has become a historical figure.

In an interview with Phoenix radio, Mr. Hun Sen said that the path he took had three main achievements: Bringing peace to the country, helping Cambodia transform after its dark past, and successfully handling the Covid-19 pandemic.

Choose to save the country

Born on August 5, 1952 in Kong Pong Cham province, Cambodia, Mr. Hun Sen is the third child in a not very well-off family of 6 children.

While still in school, Mr. Hun Sen had the desire to become a teacher when he grew up.

`My aspirations and dreams were no longer there because of war and genocide. Political events changed my aspirations and pushed me into political activities,` Cambodian Prime Minister

Nearly 40 years of Mr. Hun Sen leading Cambodia

Mr. Hun Sen in the 1980s (Photo: Khmer Times).

At the age of 18, young Hun Sen went into the forest to join the struggle movement, leading to the liberation of the country in April 1975.

But then, the Pol Pot government came to power, forcing Cambodians from urban areas to move to concentrated labor camps in the countryside, where forced labor, starvation and massacres occurred.

In 1977, Mr. Hun Sen and some of his comrades went to Vietnam to seek support for the revolution and save the country from genocide.

`Leaving my 5-month pregnant wife was no joke for a 25-year-old young man like me at that time. However, just standing by and letting Pol Pot kill or commit suicide were not options.

Since then, Vietnamese volunteer troops have stood side by side with the Cambodian National Solidarity Front for National Salvation to fight Pol Pot’s army. By January 7, 1979, they completely liberated the capital Phnom Penh, overthrowing the regime.

`If the Cambodian army and people did not have the help of Vietnamese volunteers, they would not have been able to liberate so quickly,` the Cambodian Prime Minister once affirmed.

Build the country

After taking up arms to fight, Mr. Hun Sen began building Cambodia.

In 1979, Mr. Hun Sen became the youngest Foreign Minister in Cambodia’s history and only 6 years later, in 1985, he assumed the position of Prime Minister.

Nearly 40 years of Mr. Hun Sen leading Cambodia

Supporters of Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Cambodian People’s Party at a campaign in Phnom Penh in 2017 (Photo: Reuters).

Mr. Hun Sen himself, looking back, cannot help but be proud of his achievements.

`I have held the position of Prime Minister for about four decades and have worked in the government for about 44 years,` he said at an event on April 24.

In 1993, two years after the Paris Peace Agreement was signed, Cambodia held a United Nations-sponsored National Assembly election.

Although Mr. Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) won fewer votes than the royalist party FUNCINPEC, he still maintained leadership as the second Prime Minister, sharing power with first Prime Minister Norodom Ranariddh.

In the next general election in 1998, the CPP won with a majority, making Hun Sen the sole Prime Minister of Cambodia.

Yang Peou, Secretary General of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said that the reason Mr. Hun Sen was able to lead the country for so long was because of his political talent, innate leadership ability and because he was devoted to the country.

`He has been in power since he was very young. This is due to his ability to lead the country in the right direction. Without the support of the people, no one, no matter how strong, can hold power

Nearly 40 years of Mr. Hun Sen leading Cambodia

Mr. Hun Sen stands next to his son Hun Manet, who is expected to succeed his father to become Prime Minister of Cambodia (Photo: Reuters).

And Sebastian Strangio, biographer of Mr. Hun Sen, pointed out that the outstanding feature of the Cambodian Prime Minister’s career `is his ideological and political flexibility`, being able to quickly adjust to suit.

Under Mr. Hun Sen, Cambodia witnessed many positive changes with policies such as the Development Triangle Strategy and the Development Quadrilateral Strategy.

With an average annual growth rate of 7.7% in 1998-2019, Cambodia was one of the fastest growing economies in the world before the Covid-19 pandemic, with the textile and garment industry spearheaded.

From being a low-income country, the country reached a low-middle income level in 2015. The country is expected to become a middle-income country by 2030, according to the World Bank.

`I want to develop my country like other outstanding figures in Southeast Asia have done,` Mr. Hun Sen shared in a biography book.

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