Prime Minister Hun Sen said Monday that if he ever fails to get reelected he will retire from politics and dedicate his life to solving social problems and writing poetry.
“When I retire, I will establish an elderly association—a group of old people—to go down to the communities and examine how we can help them,” Hun Sen said at a ceremony in Phnom Penh where he handed out certificates to volunteers with the NGO Youth Star. “I want to compose poetry,” he added.
Hun Sen, who has been prime minister since 1985, acknowledged that some critics have charged that he has been in the position for too long. But he said he has not been trying to consolidate power for himself, and will step down if people stop voting for him.
“Some people have said that there should be a reshuffle because it is too long,” he said of his decades-long tenure as prime minister. “[But] longer doesn’t mean bad and newer doesn’t mean better.”
Hun Sen also said that it was his common touch that has been his key to success in politics.
“If leaders just graduate from university and don’t know how to make prahok, how can they become a leader?” he asked.
“You are Khmer but you want cheese or butter. [If] you like this, you cannot become a good Cam-bodian leader.”
Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said Hun Sen should not use elections as a means to decide whether to retire.
“Leaders should retire when they have done enough for the country,” he said.