Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday offered his condolences over the death of former Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who passed away in the morning at the age of 91.
Speaking at the inauguration of the Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel, Mr. Hun Sen recalled Lee Kuan Yew’s influence on the political landscape of Southeast Asia.
“In the name of the Cambodian government and Cambodian people, I would like to share condolences with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong…and the Singaporean people for the loss of Lee Kuan Yew, who was the founder of Singapore,” Mr. Hun Sen said.
“He was not only the founder of Singapore but also a co-founder of Asean,” he added.
Mr. Hun Sen’s relationship with Lee Kuan Yew was at times strained, with Singapore and Asean supporting the armed resistance to Phnom Penh during the 1980s.
Lee Kuan Yew in 2007 also told U.S. diplomats that Cambodia should not have been admitted to Asean in the 1990s, as “the political system is too personalized around Prime Minister Hun Sen,” according to WikiLeaks cables.
During his speech Monday, Mr. Hun Sen also reflected on how hard it is to be a prime minister.
“This position is not easy, but difficult,” he said, noting that his predecessors Lon Nol and Pol Pot had both been poor leaders.
Mr. Hun Sen added that he was so busy as prime minister that he had not yet been able to accept an invitation from the Sokha hotel’s owner, Sok Kong, to have a meal at the hotel’s restaurant.
“I don’t have time yet. I hardly have time to put rice into my mouth at home. I can occasionally make it, but it requires not having documents sent [to me] on Saturdays and Sundays,” he said.