Hun Sen’s art of giving: How gift-giving has sustained 35 years of rule for Hun Sen

January saw Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen mark 35 years in power. Columnist David Hutt examines one crucial tactic of governance that has sustained his more-than three decade rule – the art of giving.

On January 14, as Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen celebrated his 35th year in power, a feat that makes him the world’s most longest-serving premier, he was obviously distracted by the rumours circulating the Phnom Penh grapevine that he is preparing to soon hand over power to one of his sons.

Most pundits have their money on Hun Manet, his eldest, who in 2018 was made the de-facto head of the military and given an important seat on the ruling Cambodian People’s Party’s Permanent Committee, it elite decision-making body.

But, according to Hun Sen, he is going nowhere – in fact, he wants to remain in office for another decade. “We are a democratic country,” he intoned to a room full of journalists. “It is not a country that we transfer power from father to son as some countries do. We have to go through the elections.”

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