Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen wins a landslide election victory.
Many congratulations to Hun Sen, the Cambodian Prime Minister who has already been in power for 33 years but is so popular with his electorate that his party has just won another thumping great majority with a massive turnout of 82 per cent. How does he do it?
Well, not by making his people wealthier. It is the 4th poorest country in South east Asia with 14% below the poverty line and 37% of Cambodian children suffer from chronic malnutrition.
And not by educating them either. The adult literacy rate is only 77.6%.
Not through public works. Only 24 percent of Cambodians have access to electricity, 64 percent to clean water and 31 percent to adequate sanitation.
Not through health services. Hospitals in Cambodia fall short of international standards. Doctors are underpaid and the system is corrupt. Anyone who can gets medical treatment abroad.
Not through a modern housing programme. 80% of Cambodians live in rural stilt houses built from wood and clay. Many of the remaining urban 20% live in slums.
So what is the secret of Hun Sen’s remarkable popularity? Just this:
Opposition figures are routinely imprisoned and beaten. In 2016 a well known activist was murdered and the police made no effort to investigate. Kem Sokha, leader of the opposition party, Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) was sentenced to a five-month jail term for something or other. Another opposition leader, Sam Rainsy remained in exile whilst he was on the receiving end of too many criminal convictions to count. In 2017 Prime Minister Hun Sen obviously decided it was all getting too complicated so he took the sensible step of having Cambodia’s top court dissolve the country’s main opposition party altogether, ensuring that he ran uncontested in the 2018 election.
Your claim to have won a landslide would have been more impressive, Mr Sen, if you had allowed anyone else to stand against you!