Cambodia’s sham election might be Hun Sen’s last

Asia’s longest serving leader makes his own rules, in golf and politics. Now he’s preparing his sons to take over.

When I first met Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen, I didn’t have much hope for his future.

A seemingly shy, simple man appeared before me in January 1980 at the foreign ministry in Phnom Penh. He was then foreign minister, soon to be deputy prime minister.

A Khmer Rouge battalion commander, Hun Sen had lost an eye during the war. Defecting from the murderous Pol Pot regime (1975-1979) to the Vietnamese in June 1977, he received intensive tutoring from Hanoi’s communist leaders. Eighteen months later, Hanoi moved to oust Pol Pot and install Hun Sen as a key member of the new Khmer leadership.

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