Prime Minister Hun Sen has confirmed that his eldest son Hun Manet is his preferred successor as prime minister provided he is able to win election to the post when the time comes.
Manet is currently the deputy commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and the commander of the army’s infantry.
Before serving in Cambodia’s military, Manet earned a bachelor’s degree from West Point Military Academy and a master’s degree from New York University, both in the US, before earning his PhD in economics from the University of Bristol in the UK.
Speaking at the inauguration for 37 newly completed roads and three wastewater treatment stations in Preah Sihanouk province on December 2, Hun Sen said his son is the best candidate to succeed him, though he did not specify any particular time frame for the change to occur.
“I declare today that I support my son as my successor in the office of prime minister – but only through his election – not by any other means,” he said in an apparent response to critics who say he is preparing his son to inherit his position of power.
Soon after the announcement, many other officials and members of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) – including his brother Hun Many – showed public support for Manet as future prime minister.
Many said his parents did not want their children to enter into politics originally because it involved so much hardship from the pressure of having huge responsibilities and the stress caused by the level of devotion it required.
“But the social context has changed, which brings us to this point. Perhaps it is in our family’s blood to take an interest in society but those who desire our people to be happy and our country to be prosperous will continue to shelter under the peace we’ve established today and for the future,” Many said.
Many said his brother Manet has great maturity which earns him the respect and love of everyone who knows him.
Heng Sour, spokesman for the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, said he strongly supports Manet as a future candidate for prime minister.
Sour described Manet as someone who is highly educated with knowledge about government, economics, diplomacy and the military. He said Manet possesses a great deal of natural ability but his accomplishments have mostly come through hard work and effort.
“I am really happy and greatly appreciate this announcement,” Sour said in a Facebook post.
Political analyst Seng Sary said it is good to know who Hun Sen favours as his successor, even for other parties because they can now prepare to compete with him as the opposing candidate.
“When we know that Manet will be the candidate ... it makes it easy for other parties to prepare their qualified candidates to compete against [him],” he said.
He said any election with Manet as a candidate for prime minister must be conducted in a free, fair and genuinely democratic manner that meets standards acceptable to the international community.