Prime Minister Hun Sen’s oldest son Lieutenant General Hun Manet has been officially endorsed by the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) as its future candidate for the top office after his father’s retirement.
The endorsement was made official at the 43rd meeting of the CPP’s Central Committee at its headquarters in Phnom Penh's Chamkarmon district on the morning of December 24.
“[Hun Sen] received a unanimous vote of confidence and will continue as the party’s candidate for prime minister [in the 2023 general election] while [Manet] was endorsed unanimously as the party’s future candidate for the office,” the CPP stated in a press release.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan told The Post on December 26 that the party's Standing Committee presented a number of candidates to the assembled party leaders who voted unanimously in favour of Manet.
The 43rd Central Committee meeting was chaired by Hun Sen as party president and co-chaired by the head of the National Assembly, Heng Samrin, as honorary party president.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sar Kheng and Senate president Say Chhum were also in attendance as the party’s vice-presidents, along with the 775 other central committee members.
At the meeting, Deputy Prime Minster and Minster of National Defence Tea Banh and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspection Men Sam Orn were both elected as new vice-presidents of the party and will serve in that role along with the current vice-presidents, Say Chhum and Sar Kheng, according to the CPP press release.
Ro Vannak, co-founder of the Cambodian Institute for Democracy, told The Post on December 26 that the preparation of successors for leadership positions by political parties was handled in a variety of ways depending on the country in question, but that it was commonly done – especially by ruling parties that are looking to build on their present success.
Introducing leaders early helps to win elections by maintaining a sense of continuity and order in the public’s mind from one generation of leaders to the next and is often done ahead of time so that a change in the party’s candidates would not feel too sudden and result in the loss of the electorate’s confidence.
He added that choosing Manet as their future candidate for prime minister was an internal party matter, but it was good that they did it transparently and announced it right away because it serves the public interest to be open about their decisions in this regard.
“I don’t foresee him being much different from his father [should he win election]. I would expect him to make use of the solid underlying foundations of power that our Constitution grants the office of prime minister in order to maintain stability and the status quo by retaining power for himself and his party, maintaining peace, promoting social order and serving the people, all the basic lessons learned in politics.
“On the other hand, I think that he needs to work harder to make the public aware of his outstanding work and achievements so he can gain the trust of the people overall and also to better position himself to deal with the leaders of other nations and become a known quantity in international politics ahead of his taking office.
“Both goals are best achieved by increasing soft power and soft power resources and attracting new sources of support and cooperation. Building on his father’s legacy would give him a chance at becoming a transformative political leader in his own right and that would legitimately be quite a remarkable thing to be able to claim as a family tradition,” Vannak said.