Hopes New PM Will Prioritize Development and Society

Cambodians give their views on the announcement that Prime Minister Hun Sen will transfer power to his son on August 22 after serving as Prime Minister for almost four decades
Hun Manet shows his inked finger after a vote on July 23, 2023. Kiripost/Siv Channa
Hun Manet shows his inked finger after a vote on July 23, 2023. Kiripost/Siv Channa

Cambodians young and old have spoken of their hopes that the country will prosper and continue to develop under the leadership of the next prime minister, Hun Manet, and his cabinet.

Kheang Kimsour, a car spare parts seller, believes the resignation of Hun Sen will have no impact on the economy as it is a political issue and the new leader will form a new government.

“I do not think it will affect the economy because this is a political party tied to the elections by the people,” she said.

She added that she hopes Hun Manet will focus on peace, investment, job creation, public services, agriculture, healthcare, and education. “These are the key areas that need to be improved in order to ensure the long-term development of Cambodia.”

"One of the most significant aspects is the education system. The Ministry should be involved in strengthening teachers' abilities to educate our children effectively. Nurture and education are vital for the development of our nation," she emphasized.

Sbuong Yat, 52, a seller at Depo Market, told Kiripost that after the long leadership of the current Cambodian Prime Minister, a new figurehead could aid Cambodia’s journey to become a high income nation and enhance human resources.

“I am happy he is okay [Hun Sen], his leadership also accepts this. I want to see the new Prime Minister care about the people. I still want him to continue to develop areas that are damaged. For example, some roads so it is easy to travel.”

Ty Sam Ath, a 63-year-old farmer, told Kiripost he has accepted the leadership of the Cambodian Prime Minister. However, he hopes that the new Prime Minister will have more capacity to lead the country after his father.

“He is good because he is the new generation, when he [Prime Minister Hun Sen] is old, he needs to allow his son to replace him. He is highly educated and his leadership follows his capability.”

“I already know when our country was in a dark regime. What I want to see is that I hope we will get more peaceful,” he added.

Aok Sophy, 22, studying at Pannasastra University of Cambodia, said, “This appointment is normal because the CPP have prepared for this before reaching the official announcement. I have heard and seen some information about this already.

“It’s another opportunity for the younger generation to become involved with politics, continuing from Prime Minister Hun Sen, while the political situation will be more competitive with other parties.”

Sophy believes that Hun Manet will take Cambodia to another level. He strongly accepts that Hun Manet’s missions are not different from his predecessor due to him placing enhancing Cambodia's development as a top priority.

However, Sophy said that whoever becomes Prime Minister is not important to him; the importance is the rule of law in the country. He added that he is concerned about citizens’ rights and freedom, and requested they get equal justice, even if they do not have any power.

He especially wants to see corruption stamped out, which is known as a “deadly disease from the sub-national level to the upper level”, impacting people to live unfairly in society.

If the new Prime Minister can rebuild and solve corruption problems, Sophy believes it will be better for the Kingdom's development, especially economic growth. “As we know, when a state is fully corrupted, foreign investors won't go to do their business there,” he added.

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Yen Socheata, a fresh graduate at the University of Cambodia, shared her perspective.

“I think he trusts the capability of his son, and I hope Hun Manet will lead the country with more growth, especially in democratic ways in Cambodia.”

Ou Chanrath, a politician, said the​​ transfer of position from father to son is an interesting move for the international community.

He said, “This transfer position is not unusual, it may still be the same thing because the leadership of Hun Manet going forward still needs the advice of the same leadership from the party members, so I think nothing much will change”.

He added, political issues have not changed and, especially, international pressure continues to follow the leadership’s attitude.

Chanrath emphasized, “The changing power was a matter of security from father to son. If it does not change now, they will face some issues because people and international countries don't welcome changing power from father to son especially in democratic countries. Therefore, it is a good time for PM Hun Sen to change his power to son while he is still in power.”

Chanrath observed that this change has a lot of support from people in the country, but he remains unsure whether this support is “from the heart”.

He stated, “Lest this support is just a shell performance because it is useful for them. But I can not conclude that the support is from their real willingness”.

Peng Sary, a lecturer in International Politics, said the strength of a leader is to be able to leave power with honor and leave a legacy for future generations.

“In this sense, Prime Minister Hun Sen has already made great achievements in history by ending the war, maintaining peace and national unity. And Hun Sen has resigned now, when his party won the election, and the people support it a lot. This is his sacrifice and he will leave with honor; with ivory victory.”

Sary said that the prosperity of a nation depends on the sustainability of leadership and the transfer of power.

“For example, Khmers, we were a great power in the Angkorian era, but why do we always fall like this? Because there is no sustainability of proper leadership and transfer of power. If we compare world-famous universities like Harvard, Cambridge, and Oxford, we see that Cambodia is one of the oldest countries with the first universities. But why is Angkor University lost? The university was born later, but it has reached the bottom of the sky? Because of the lack of sustainable leadership and transfer of power.”

Sary added, “This is an opportunity for the next generation, the new generation to lead a modern society. Dr. Kem Ley once said, "It would be good if the old politicians agreed to step down and leave the children to the new generation. Lee Kuan Yew, Xiao Ping and American leaders alike must have time to retire. To set aside time to be a role model and guide the next generation, as well as book writing training as an experience for the next generation”.

Hun Sen Resigns, Handing Over Premiership to His Son

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