Cambodia will hold general elections on 23 July 2023. That means it is once again time for long-standing Prime Minister Hun Sen to exert power to ensure his party, the Cambodian People’s Party, comfortably wins re-election.
At the helm for nearly four decades, Hun Sen is an astute political operative who never misses an opportunity to minimise possible threats against him, his family or his party. His political skills and strongman tactics have become even more important in 2023 as he contemplates transferring power to his eldest son, Hun Manet.
Independent media has long been in the crosshairs of Hun Sen. His latest target was the Voice of Democracy (VOD), a news agency that began as a radio station in 2003 and then developed into an online news source. It was one of the last bastions of critical media in the country. Forcing VOD shut has further narrowed what Noam Chomsky calls the ‘spectrum of acceptable opinion’ in Cambodia. By reducing the scope and scale of dissenting opinions and discourse, Hun Sen believes he will be able to win re-election and ensure his son is seen as the rightful heir, no questions asked.