King Norodom Sihamoni has bestowed the late Hun Neng – the older brother of Prime Minister Hun Sen – with a royal title following his passing from a heart attack on the afternoon of May 5 at the age of 72, according to a royal decree dated May 7.
In a Facebook post later that day, the premier wrote: “Brother, though you have now passed away, you were always known for your dedication to the nation, religion and king. A little while ago, our respectful king granted you the title of Samdech Udom Tep Nhean Hun Neng.”
Hun Sen also told a story about himself and his brother, who were just ages 18 and 20 respectively when they took part in demonstrations on March 23, 1970 – very near to the site where Hun Neng is now buried – to protest against Lon Nol’s coup and demand the reinstatement of then-prince Norodom Sihanouk as head of the government that was overthrown.
“Our family – from all generations, from our ancestors, our parents to ourselves – have always been loyal to the king, to the throne and to the monarchy. I am confident that all of our children will follow in our footsteps, ensuring the protection of the monarchy, the protection of the king and of the throne with the utmost dedication,” Hun Sen added.
Hun Neng’s wife Leang Vouch Chheng thanked the king for bestowing the title in memory of her beloved husband.
“The title Samdech Udom Tep Nhean Hun Neng [Lord of Excellent Divine Intelligence] that His Majesty King Sihamoni, highest and most revered, granted to my husband on this occasion is indeed a worthy one that rewards his outstanding merit and the many sacrifices he had made to serve the greater interests of the nation, religion and king. Now he has achieved peace, both physically and mentally, forever and ever,” she said.
The body of Hun Neng – who was serving as chairman of the 4th Commission of the National Assembly – was brought to his home in Village 7 of Kampong Cham commune and town in Kampong Cham province where traditional Cambodian Buddhist funereal rites are being held for him.
On May 9, Hun Neng’s body will be buried at Wat Sovankiri Rattanak Phnom Pros in Trapeang Char village of Kampong Siem district’s Krala commune, which Hun Sen inspected personally on the morning of May 7.
The provincial administration will temporarily suspend traffic on National Road 7 on May 9 from 6am to 10am from the roundabout at the base of Kizuna Bridge to the Pring roundabout in O’Svay commune of Kampong Siem district to make way for Hun Neng’s funeral procession.
The provincial administration on May 6 notified residents, the public and owners of all kinds of vehicles and transport companies of the road closure.
The funeral procession to the pagoda will be attended by Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany along with other members of their extended family as well as Hun Neng’s friends, various dignitaries such as the leaders of the Senate and National Assembly, and senior government officials and members of the armed forces.
On May 8, former opposition leader Kem Sokha led a delegation to pay their respects to Hun Neng’s family and offer their condolences to Hun Sen.
Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob also sent a message to Hun Sen, saying it was with profound sorrow and sincere regret that he was writing to him to convey his condolences upon learning of the passing of his elder brother and that his family and the people of Kampong Cham had lost a good leader.
“The shock of suddenly losing a dear family member is never easy. My thoughts are with his wife and children, and all extended family members,” he wrote.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh also extended his condolences on May 8.
“I hope that Samdech Techo Prime Minister and his family can soon overcome this huge loss,” the letter reads, using Hun Sen’s royal title.
Lao ambassador to Cambodia Thongloun Sisoulith also paid his respects to Hun Neng and conveyed a message of condolences from the Prime Minister of Laos.
Diplomats from a number of other countries, including the ambassadors of the US, China, Japan and Russia, have also sent messages of condolences to Hun Sen.