Speaking about his conferred title, Prime Minister Hun Sen said those who carry the honorific “Techo” are destined to fight off invaders trying to attack Cambodia.
Although the premier did not refer to any group or country by name, Cambodia’s relations with neighboring Thailand are at the lowest in years and fighting between troops of both nations have broken out along the shared border. In January alone, forces from the two countries engaged in two armed clashes while firefights broke out at the Preah Vihear temple last year where troops from both countries are engaged in a protracted standoff.
“When there is Techo Hun Sen, the problem is there. All Techos clashed with that. Whenever there is Techo there is always clashing with the invader,” the prime minister said while speaking at a graduation ceremony at Phnom Penh’s National Institute of Education.
The title Techo, meaning powerful or strong, is also associated with the historical Khmer figure of Techo Domdin, an ancient warrior who fought against the Siamese.
The primer received his current title of “Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo” in October 2007 after King Norodom Sihamoni bestowed it in a royal decree. In 1993, then-King Norodom Sihanouk awarded him the title of “Samdech,” which was also conferred to Assembly President Heng Samrin and Senate President Chea Sim.
During his speech, Mr Hun Sen also criticized “greedy” government officials that he said paid for their positions rather than earned them on their merits and work. He said that officials should be hired or promoted based on fair assessments and not from bribes they pay.
They “climb with nepotism and not by oneself. In this day do not climb with interventions. Take a fair examination,” he told the audience of students.
“For example if the official is too greedy, some day that you are caught you will go back to the same place or you are even jailed,” the premier continued. “Try to stand on your own and step on your own; that is strong.”
He also called on the young audience of students to compare their lives to those who are less fortunate then themselves.
“I faced a hard time, I was a pagoda boy and I did not even have a mosquito net to use,” he recounted.
(Additional reporting by Frank Radosevich)