Hun Sen left the post of prime minister to his son after the July 23 election. But the two have different paths
By Tommaso Magrini
As expected after the July 23 elections, Cambodian Premier Hun Sen gave way to his son Hun Manet, whose confirmation as premier came by National Assembly vote on Tuesday, August 22. But who is Hun Manet? He is the eldest of Hun Sen's five children, born in 1977 in rural Cambodia. His father said his son was born of a spirit that emerged from a banyan tree in a flash of light. Hun Manet is married to Pich Chanmony, daughter of a prominent Cambodian politician, and has three children. Unlike his father, who had no formal education, Hun Manet enjoyed a privileged education, thanks to which he earned a master's degree from New York University and a doctorate from the British University of Bristol, both in economics. A graduate of the West Point Military Academy in the United States, the newly appointed PM quickly climbed the ranks of the Cambodian armed forces, leading a counterterrorism team and serving as deputy chief of his father's bodyguard unit, as well as army chief and deputy military commander. On the political front, he led the youth wing of the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) and was a member of its standing committee. Asian neighbors and Western countries will be watching closely to see whether Hun Manet will maintain the status quo or pursue greater liberalization, which actually on the economic front has already been initiated by his father. In early August, the chairman of the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council told Reuters that the body hopes to host Hun Manet in New York soon. In his first statements after becoming premier, Hun Manet promised to improve the economy, rule of law and social justice, as well as develop human resources and infrastructure, combat climate change and raise wages for workers and civil servants.