Controversy has broken out among the Cambodian community in the city of Long Beach, California, over the decision to invite Prime Minister Hun Sen’s eldest son, Hun Manet, to be a guest at an upcoming Khmer New Year parade, with some threatening to boycott the annual event if Mr. Manet attends.
According to the Long Beach Press-Telegram, more than 200 protesters demonstrated outside the Long Beach City Council on Tuesday to ask the council to denounce Mr. Manet’s planned visit. The group of protesters are also seeking to have Mr. Manet disinvited from the parade.
In response to the protesters’ concerns, the group was given time to address the council on Tuesday night to present their case for a boycott.
“Public comment against the visit ran for more than an hour, with no one commenting in favor of the visit,” the Press-Telegram reported.
After the meeting, the vice mayor of the city, councilwoman Suja Lowenthal, declared she would not attend the event, and at least one other council member followed suit, according to the newspaper.
The Press-Telegram previously reported that Mr. Manet had been invited to march in the parade by the Cambodian Coordinating Council—a local group that organizes the Khmer New Year events in Long Beach—after a request from the Cambodian consulate in the city, and that businessman Kith Meng might join the CPP scion there.
Mr. Meng is well known for being friendly with the government, and his Royal Group has extensive business interests here, including the Cellcard mobile telephone network and the concession to operate Cambodia’s refurbished railway network.
Mr. Manet could not be reached for comment, but earlier this month he responded to rumblings of discontent about his impending visit by releasing a statement on Facebook calling for unity in the Cambodian-American community.
“Instead of debating which Khmer group(s) should be allowed to attend and who should be barred, we should be sitting together to discuss how we can plan this event well; so that we can take full advantage of this golden opportunity to show the World about our Khmer unity and pride as a nation,” he wrote.