Hun Sen

Hun Sen is the Prime Minister of Cambodia and leader of the Cambodian People's Party, which has governed Cambodia since the Vietnamese-backed overthrow of the Khmer Rouge in 1979.

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Hun Sen (Khmer: ហ៊ុន សែន; born 5 August 1952)[1] is the Prime Minister of Cambodia and leader of the Cambodian People's Party (CPP), which has governed Cambodia since the Vietnamese-backed overthrow of the Khmer Rouge in 1979. Since the restoration of multi-party democracy in 1993, the CPP has been in a coalition with the royalist Funcinpec party.

His full honorary title is Samdach Akeak Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen (Khmer: សម្តេចអគ្គមហាសេនាបតីតេជោ ហ៊ុន សែន). The title "Samdech" was attached to his name in 1993 by King Norodom Sihanouk, though this does not give him additional powers. He has a glass eye, the result of a wound sustained during the Khmer Rouge offensive against Phnom Penh in April 1975. Hun Sen is the second longest serving leader in Southeast Asia and is one of the longest serving prime ministers in the world, having been in power through various coalitions since 1985.

Early life

Hun Sen was born in Kompong Cham, which is located in Cambodia, Cambodia and was the third child of six children to a peasant family. His father, Hun Neang was a resident monk in a local Wat in Kampong Cham province before disrobing to join the French resistance and married his mother, Dee Yon in the 1940s. Hun Neang's paternal grandparents were wealthy landowners of Teochew Chinese heritage.[2][3] Hun Neang inherited some of his family assets and led a relatively comfortable life, as they owned several hectares of land until a kidnapping incident forced their family to sell off much of their assets.[4] Hun Sen left his family at the age of 13 to attend a monastic school in Phnom Penh. When Lon Nol usurped power from Sihanouk in 1970 during a bloodless coup, Hun Nal gave up his education to join the Khmer Rouge.[5] Two years later, Hun Nal changed his name to Hun Sen. In 1974, Hun Sen met his future wife Bun Rany. He was wounded in the left eye, which was later removed, in 1975 on the day before the Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh. The following year, Hun Sen married Bun Rany.[6]

Political career

Hun Sen came to power with the Khmer Rouge and served as a Battalion Commander in the Eastern Region of Democratic Kampuchea (the state name during the Khmer rouge government). In 1977 during internal purges of the Khmer Rouge regime, Hun Sen and his battalion cadres fled to Vietnam.[7] Hun Sen became one of the leaders of the rebel army and government that the Vietnamese government sponsored when they prepared to invade Cambodia. When the Khmer Rouge regime was overthrown, Hun Sen was appointed Foreign Minister of the Vietnamese-installed People's Republic of Kampuchea/State of Cambodia (PRK/SOC) in 1979 and in 1985 he was elected Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Prime Minister, after the death of Chairman Chan Sy until 1990, (with a brief interruption from 1986 until 1987). As Foreign Minister, Hun Sen played a pivotal role in the Paris Peace Talks, which brokered peace in Cambodia. During this period Prince Norodom Sihanouk referred to him as a "One eyed lackey of the Vietnamese".

In 1987, Amnesty International accused Hun Sen's government of torture of thousands of political prisoners using "electric shocks, hot irons and near-suffocation with plastic bags."[8]

In a very bold move after the UN monitored elections he refused to step down from the post and negotiated a transitional government agreement that allowed him to remain as co-prime minister but he retained the chairmanship of the CPP. From 1993 until 1998 he was Co-Prime Minister with Prince Norodom Ranariddh. In 1997, the coalition was shaken by tensions between Ranariddh and Hun Sen. FUNCINPEC began to collaborate with the remaining Khmer Rouge rebels (with whom it had been allied against Hun Sen's Vietnamese-backed government during the 1980s), aiming to absorb them into its ranks.[citation needed]

In response, Hun Sen launched the 1997 Cambodian Coup, replacing Ranariddh with Ung Hout as the First Prime Minister and himself still as the Second Prime Minister until the CPP's victory in the 1998 election and thus becoming the country's sole Prime Minister in 1998. During that year the media broadcast him as the Strong Man of Cambodia which he later said was premature, and that the July 1997 was merely, the government taking action against the paramilitary anarchy that was sponsored and brought to Phnom Penh by Norodom Ranariddh.[citation needed]

In an open letter, Amnesty International condemned the summary execution of FUNCINPEC ministers and the "systematic campaign of arrests and harassment " of political opponents.[9]

The elections of July 2003 resulted in a larger majority in the National Assembly for the CPP, with FUNCINPEC losing seats to the CPP and the Sam Rainsy Party. However, CPP's majority was short of the two thirds constitutionally required for the CPP to form a government alone. This deadlock was overcome and a new CPP-FUNCINPEC coalition was formed in mid-2004. When Norodom Ranariddh was chosen to be Head of the National Assembly and Hun Sen became again sole Prime Minister of Cambodia.


Some political opponents of Hun Sen accuse him of being a Vietnamese puppet. This is due to his position in the government created by Vietnam while Cambodia was under Vietnamese military occupation and the fact that he was a prominent figure in the People's Revolutionary Party of Kampuchea (now known as the Cambodian People's Party), which governed Cambodia as a one-party state under Vietnamese military occupation from 1979 until elections in 1993. Hun Sen and his supporters reject such charges, saying that he represents only the Cambodian people.

Forced evictions: Hun Sen's government has been responsible for the sale of land to foreign investors in 2007-08 resulting in the eviction of thousands of residents from their homes.[10]

Hun Sen was implicated in corruption related to Cambodia's oil wealth and mineral resources in Global Witness 2009 report on Cambodia. He and his close associates were accused of carrying out secret negotiations with interested private parties and taking money from those who he would grant rights to exploit the resources. However, the credibility of this accusation has been questioned by government officials and especially Prime Minister Hun Sen, himself.[11]

As of 2012, the minister has arrested two innocent women, Yorm Bopha and Tim Sakmony, for protesting against the forced eviction at the Boeung Kak Lake along with many other activists. The two are facing charges that are not related to the protest. [12] Cambodia's people are also trying to send out a message to U.S. President, Barack Obama. Eight villagers of Phnom Penh were arrested for painting "SOS" and plastering Obama's picture on their rooftops. Police deemed their actions as illegal. Earlier in the year, the villagers were told to leave their homes so that the airport can build a larger runway and security buffer zone. For nearly 30 years, powerful companies are able to evict people forcibly.[13]

Personal life

Hun Sen is married to Bun Rany. They have six children, 3 sons and 3 daughters: Manet, Mana, Manit, Mani, Mali and Malis. The youngest, Malis was adopted. Hun Manet is a 1999 West Point Academy graduate and obtained his PhD in Economics at the University of Bristol. In 2010, Manet was promoted Major General in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) and became the Deputy Commander of the Prime Minister's Body Guard headquarters.

Although Hun Sen's birthday is officially celebrated on April 4, 1951, he had revealed that his actual date of birth was August 5, 1952.[14] He had apparently lied about his date of birth to appear older when joining the Khmer Rouge in his youth.


  • 1991, an Honorary Ph.D. in Political Science, the National Political Academy, Hanoi.
  • 1995 an Honorary Ph.D. in Politics, the Southern California University for Professional Studies, USA.
  • 1996, an Honorary Ph.D. of Law, Iowa Wesleyan College, USA.
  • On April 10, 2001, an Honorary Ph.D. in Political Science, Graduate School of Dankook University, South Korea.
  • On November 15, 2001, an Honorary Ph.D. in Political Science in the field of Foreign Relations, the Ramkhamhaeng University, Thailand.
  • On April 10, 2004, an Honorary Ph.D. in Political Science, the Irish International University of the European Union, Cambodia.
  • On September 15, 2004, Hun Sen has been accepted and sworn in as a member of the Bar Association of Cambodia.
  • On March 21, 2006, an Honorary Ph.D. in Political Science, the Soon Chun Hyang University, Seoul, received during his official visit to the Republic of Korea.
  • On June 28, 2006, an Honorary Ph.D. in Education for Locality Development, Bansomdejchaopraya Rajabhat University, Thailand.
  • On January 29, 2007, an Honorable Ph.D. in Education, the Ministry of Education and Training of Vietnam, along with the Hanoi National University of Education.
  • On September 21, 2007, an Honorary Fellowship of Companion of Commercial Diplomacy, the Association of Certified Commercial Diplomats (ACCD), England.
  • July 2008, the Honorable Professor of Diplomatic and International Relations, the Universidad Empresarial de Costa Rica, Costa Rica.
  • On 7 January 2009, an Honorary Ph.D. in Economic, the Woosuk University of the Republic of Korea.
  • On 3 June 2009, an Honorary Doctoral Degree in Political Science, Korea University of the Republic of Korea.[15]


  1. Premier's Biography at the Royal Government of Cambodia Homepage; accessed 24 May 2009.
  2. Forest (2008), p. 178 "Sino-khmer originaire du district de Krauch Chmar 140, Hun Sèn descend par ses grands-parents paternels d'une famille de propriétaires terriens qui paraît correspondre au stéréotype du Chinois - téochiew ? - implanté en zone rurale, c'est-à-dire aisée mais sans pouvoir administratif. Par sa mère, il descendrait inversement d'une tête de réseau....."
  3. Time (Magazine), Volume 136 (1990), p. 329 Beijing has not softened its hostility toward Hun Sen, but there are subtle signs that China may yet shift its position. Some officials now mention that Hun Sen's grandfather was Chinese, seeming to hint at the possibility of a new....
  4. Harish C. Mehta (1999), p. 15-6
  5. Harish C. Mehta (1999), p. 11, 21
  6. Harish C. Mehta (1999), p. 32, 35
  7. Cambodia's Hun Sen Is Himself Khmer Rouge - New York Times
  8. Cambodia is Said to Torture Prisoners, Boston Globe, June 4, 1987
  9. Open letter to Second Prime Minister Hun Sen, Amnesty International, 11 July 1997
  10. Cambodia, a country for sale, April 2008, The Guardian
  11. Country for Sale | Global Witness
  12. Clamor for Activists’ Freedom, October 2012, Radio Free Asia
  13. Cambodia Arrests 8 For Painting SOS, November 2012, The Washington Post
  14. The Cambodia Daily, April 5, 2007

Further reading