Hun Manet will perpetuate his father’s dictatorship in Cambodia: Will Australia speak out for human rights and democracy?

On Monday 7th August Cambodia’s King approved the nomination of Hun Manet, son of leader Hun Sun, as Cambodia’s next Prime Minister. The nomination will be endorsed by Cambodia’s Parliament on 22nd August. His father Hun Sen has ruled Cambodia with an iron fist for 38 years. Cambodia is now a dictatorship.

Never before has the King approved the appointment of a Prime Minister before Parliament has done so. Once again, Hun Sen has outmanoeuvred any possible opposition. Hun Sen plans to become President of the Senate. The father and son will then completely rule Cambodia.

Will the son be different from the father? All indications are he will not. Despite a western education, there is nothing to suggest Hun Manet will extend human rights to Cambodians, many of whom still struggle on less than $5 a day, while the Hun family are billionaires.

Hun Manet was head of Cambodia’s armed forces until being elected to Parliament in July’s general election, in which the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) looks to have won 120 of 125 seats. How could it not, when the opposition Candlelight Party was barred by the CPP from taking part.


“The recent Cambodian election was a sham, a betrayal of democracy and human rights”, said Hong Lim, President of the Cambodian Australian Federation: “Harassment and violence surrounded the election, as the CPP intimidated and threatened people into voting for them.”

Meng Heang Tak, Victorian MP for Clarinda, agrees: “When Hun Manet takes over, nothing will change for Cambodians unless he is challenged. It is vital that Australia, which played such a significant role in the 1990s peace process, speaks up for our values of human rights and freedom.”

Alarmingly, Hun Manet has for years been responsible for establishing branches of the Cambodian regime in Australia. Leaders of the government are heads of the CPP groups in every Australian state. CPP members are known to threaten members of the Cambodian diaspora in Australia.

Yet through the recent sham election, the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Wong, was silent. To the concern of many she did not condemn the election or the 27 year jail sentence handed to the former opposition leader, Kem Sokha, nor the banning of the opposition Candlelight Party.

The Cambodian Australian Federation calls on the Minister to speak up for democracy and human rights as Hun Manet assumes his father’s dictator mantle.

“Australia is supposed to be the leader in our region for all the values associated with human rights. Cambodia does not have these freedoms, and it is vital that Australia speak up for them at this important time in Cambodia’s struggle”, said Hong Lim.