Speaking to thousands of CPP members and villagers, Prime Minister Hun Sen asked the public Monday to turn to his three sons—Hun Manet, Hun Manith and Hun Many—should they need any help from the ruling party.
Although Mr. Hun Sen has vowed to stay in power for decades to come, the prime minister’s sons have all moved into influential positions inside the army or CPP-affiliated groups. Marking their first foray into politics, the CPP recently confirmed Mr. Many’s plans to run in the upcoming polls.
“Today, I would like to show you my three sons,” the prime minister told the crowd gathered for the inauguration of a new pagoda in Kompong Cham province’s Tbong Khmum district, before asking the three to stand up and list their jobs and accomplishments.
“If you need teenagers to measure the land, please go to Manith. For the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia, you must go to Many,” he said.
The prime minister put Mr. Manith, an RCAF colonel and deputy head of the powerful Military Intelligence Unit, in charge of several thousand student volunteers he sent out across the country last year for a mass land titling push.
Mr. Many heads the CPP’s all-important Voluntary Youth Movement, considered key to garnering the support of young voters.
Mr. Manet has rocketed up the military chain of command, where he holds a number of senior posts.
But Mr. Hun Sen insisted Monday that this was not nepotism.
“It’s not to promote my children. I just want to make them understand the difficulties of their parents,” he said, adding that he had recently taken them to visit the site in Kompong Cham where he lost his left eye as a young Khmer Rouge fighter in the early 1970s.
Before asking the crowd for its votes in July’s elections, he also sought to set himself apart from the failed leaders of Cambodia’s past—from both the Lon Nol regime and the Khmer Rouge regime that toppled it in 1975.
“Lon Nol, Sirik Matak…and Cheng Heng made the wrong decision to overthrow His Majesty Norodom Sihanouk, and caused civil war. Pol Pot made the wrong decision to create murderous policies, evacuate the cities and to make people stay and eat together,” he said.
“The last thing,” he said, turning to the youngest voters, “is to vote for the CPP. Tick correctly at the CPP sign.”
In recent weeks, Mr. Hun Sen has asked the public for votes to ensure the country’s economic development and warned that the many public projects under way across the country would all come to halt should the CPP lose.