We’re welcoming a ‘reformer’ PM, but it’s his despot dad who calls the shots

When Cambodia’s new prime minister Hun Manet visits Melbourne next week for the ASEAN Australia Summit, he may seem a welcome change from his long-serving authoritarian father Hun Sen. But hopes for a democratic and human rights renaissance in this genocide-ravaged and long sadly misgoverned country remain unhappily misplaced.

While Hun Manet – softly spoken, Western-educated and technocratically savvy – will present himself as the face to the world of a modern, developing Cambodia, talking the talk of economic reform and more effective governance, the talk of his father back home is jail for his critics. And it is his father who continues to call all the shots that matter.

Hun Sen, still only 71, remains president of the Cambodian People’s Party, and in practical control of what effectively remains a one-party state. And he is, for good measure, de facto constitutional head of state as well: as president of the Senate, he acts for King Sihamoni whenever he is out of the state – as the King often has been, not least when controversial legislation has been signed into force.

In full: https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/we-re-welcoming-a-reformer-pm-but-it-s-his-despot-dad-who-calls-the-shots-20240301-p5f94c.html

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