As the CPP gears up for its fifth national election in July and Mr. Hun Sen seeks his fourth term as prime minister, the ruling party’s leaders appear to be planting the seeds of a political dynasty.
After recently announcing the entry into party politics of his youngest son, Hun Many, who will stand for election in Kompong Speu province, Mr. Hun Sen on Monday gave a spirited call for voters in Prey Veng province to throw their support behind Sar Sokha, the son of CPP Interior Minister Sar Kheng.
“I would like to introduce a nephew here as the candidate to be a National Assemblyman from Prey Veng province in the election on July 28. He is Sar Sokha, Sar Kheng’s son,” Mr. Hun Sen said during a speech at the inauguration of a pagoda in Prey Veng province’s Svay Anthor district.
“Please take care of him for me. Now, we—the fathers—are getting old and we are sending our youngsters to political and civil servant positions,” he said.
Mr. Hun Sen said that cooperation between Cambodia’s most powerful political families began with the previous generation, and would be carried on by generations to come.
“My father and Sar Kheng’s father went to a pagoda together. Sar Kheng and I are working together in the government. Now my son and his son are working together, so their children will work together as well,” he said.
Mr. Many and Mr. Sokha are among at least four sons of high-ranking CPP officials who will run as candidates for the 123-seat National Assembly in this year’s national elections.
In February, veteran CPP parliamentarian Cheam Yeap announced that Say Sam Al, the son of acting Senate President and CPP standing committee chairman Say Chhum, would run for election in Kompong Cham province and Ty Dina, the son of the CPP’s Supreme Court President Dith Munthy, would run in Kandal province.
Mr. Yeap’s own son Cheam Chansophoan, currently the deputy governor of Battambang province, will run as a reserve candidate in the upcoming election, while a son of Deputy Prime Minister and Cabinet Chief Sok An is also slated to participate in the election, though it is not clear in what capacity.
Speaking by phone Monday, Mr. Sokha, 34, who is currently Phnom Penh’s deputy municipal police chief in charge of traffic and public order, said that the experience of having watched their fathers govern the country qualified him, and the sons of other CPP officials, for political office.
“The four of us, who are about the same age, have committed together to study the example of our fathers,” Mr. Sokha said of his suitability for Parliament.
“Our experience is observing and working with our fathers,” he said, adding that he holds a master’s degree in civil law from France’s Ecole Militaire, where he also did his undergraduate studies.
Mr. Sokha said that the candidacy of the CPP’s progeny was not dynastic succession, but rather a chance for the young men to help their country.
“This is a task that those in the young generation like me must do for our country,” he said.
“If I reach a higher position [in government], I can have an opportunity in the future to help to reform our laws and help our country develop.”
However, Son Soubert, the newly elected president of the opposition Human Rights Party, said that it is more likely that by promoting family members to top political positions, the CPP’s aging top brass is securing their wealth and influence as they begin an inevitable transition out of political life.
“It’s like succeeding the old lord. Their heirs have to protect their collected properties,” Mr. Soubert said, adding, however, that he is holding out hope that the next generation will bring about a change in the ruling party.
“I hope these CPP children will be more open and move closer to democracy,” he said.