Most of people in Cambodia even some international writers and politicians have named Hun Sen as the Strong Man of Cambodia. Why do they think this way? What does it mean by a strong man?
If I am not misunderstood the term of strongman identifying Hun Sen by them would have many senses. It means that Hun Sen is a competent leader, a strong and powerful leader, a leader who has many soldiers and military under his control and his political dynasty built up. These facts do exist in Cambodian political reality if we look into it without critics. Hun Sen always comes up in the media in Cambodia with pride and send the messages to all the Cambodians that Cambodian economic growth under his rule has raised quickly. He is the only liberator of the Cambodian people from the Khmer Rouge. He is the one who put the civil war in the country to an end in the late of 1990s. He is the only one who can lead Cambodia. He is the only leader who can secure peace, stability, and economic growth in the nation. He is the only one who can solve every problem in the country ranging from international issues to national issues and even to family issues from selling store to a hectar of land in conflict. He is the supreme commander-in-chief of the military, police, media and even the supreme commander-in-chief over the King’s institute, legislative and the court. Politically, he is able to centralize the absolute power under his leadership indisputably in Cambodia without check and balance system. And with all these, he is named as the Strong Man of Cambodia.
However, I see it differently. In my eyes I see Hun Sen as one of the most unsecured and weakest leaders in the world just like Fidel Castro, Kim Jung Il, Thein Sein and many others. These leaders lead the countries by fear, by cheating, by keeping their own people in poverty, and by depriving their rights of true information, education, and basic freedom. They have no true respect from their subjects nor have they competence to be entrusted in their leaderships. They are surrounded by hatred, revenge, and enemy of their own people and even the democratic lovers around the world and they also reflectively live and lead in fear.
Just see some cases in order to identify Hun Sen as the most unsecured and weakest leader is that his orders about abolishing deforestation, the gangsters, corruption, the second-hand control along the national high ways, and land grabbing have never been listened to and carried out by officials under his government and most importantly wherever he goes there always be thousands of bodyguards, soldiers, and military personals to protect him from his house’s gate to the place he stops. Similarly, every TV station keeps propagandizing the good deed about him day and night even an inauguration of the five hundred meters of the paved street as his personal donation and great achievement. And there are many more.
In general, Hun Sen has live a life of fear even though he successes in his political life to be the Prime Minister for along time, his power doesn’t come from the true support and his competence but from threat, killing, cheating, suppressing, and subjecting our national sovereignty to Vietnam for the exchange of power. He has never been a real and positive strong leader because he never leads the country by standing on his own feet. Yet he leads by begging other nations, depending on alms, and by submission to neighboring countries. The strong leader definitively leads the country by facing the truth, critics, responsibility, and fearing no enemy in order to move the country forwards to prosperity, democracy, dignity, unity, peace, and independence.
As a response to this proof, have we ever expected him to be able to lead the country as strong leadeship’s demand? No, please do not expect that he has the ability to stand up and successfully protect the national interests from other countries’ invasion, when he can’t even stand up nor has he the courage to face with even the critics and the peaceful and unarmed demonstrations and strikes. Moreover, do not expect that he has the ability to bring about the economic growth for the country when his government can’t even enact the corruption law nor can he personally have the ability to fight against the deforestation and land grabbing. He is able for nothing. Therefore, Hun Sen in my eyes is nothing but the most unsecured ad the weakest leader only.
Chao Liang mentioned about Wukutafu when conversed with Lord Shang about the good and strong leader that Wukutafu, the councilor of Ch’in, when he was tired, he did not sit in the carriage, in summer he did not spread out a sunshade, when he traveled in the country he did not have carts or months following him, nor men carrying him shields and lances. His security is preserved in his merits and his merits were preserved in the stores, granaries and everywhere, and his virtuous conduct was displayed to later generations.