Ever since dictator Hun Sen’s Cambodian People Party (CPP) seized control over Cambodia in a bloody coup d’etat in 1997, the country has been topping the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index year after year for being run by the most corrupt government in the world. While Pol Pot, the leader of Khmer Rouge ordered to kill millions of people to secure his spot in the dictator’s heaven, Hun Sen took much more sophisticated approach and even though there is little difference between the results of his and Pol Pot’s actions, instead of causing international outrage, Hun Sen receives international aid.
For the likes of Hun Sen, killing people is business. He’s one of countless Cambodians who joined Khmer Rouge to torture and kill undesired individuals and for a few years he did just that. Little did Khmer Rouge know at the time that Hun Sen is a sneaky, self focused little bastard who will backstab his supporters and comrades for his own benefit. He went to Vietnam and started lobbying for backing to overthrow the regime he was part, but not a leader of.
After the Vietnam backed overthrow of Khmer Rouge, Hun Sen was appointed as Cambodia’s (at the time called Kampuchea) Foreign Minister. Even though not a full-on dictator yet, Hun Sen’s political career was already full of murder and torture. In 1987, Hun Sen’s led Cambodian Government was accused by Amnesty International of merciless torture of political prisoners. Thousands of Cambodians were treated with electric shocks, application of hot irons and brought on the brink of suffocation with plastic bags – following Hun Sen’s orders.
Power tripping Hun Sen continued to strengthen his position as a sole leader and dictator of Cambodia and managed to get the military commanders to join Cambodian People Party and ultimately become his ass-kissers. There was certain rivalry between the heir to the throne – Prince Norodom Ranariddh who was the First Prime Minister from 1993 until 1998 and Hun Sen who was his Co-Prime Minister resulting in bloody coup launched by Hun Sen to get rid of his rival.
Hun Sen’s coup d’etat resulted in deaths of at least 60 people and caused damage to Cambodian economy exceeding $76 million but the goal was accomplished. Through continuous and persistent removal of his opponents, Hun Sen sent himself on his merry way to become the sole leader and undisputed dictator of Cambodia with everybody else being his puppets on a string (either that, or systematically removed). Nearly 100 of Hun Sen’s opponents were murdered, tortured or never seen or heard of again within nine months of his military coup. Hundreds of others managed to flee Cambodia before they could be taken care of.
Hun Sen solidified his grasp on power and full control over Cambodia in 1998 with rigged elections, turning Cambodian People Party into the leading party with opposition suppressed or completely silenced. He’s been ruling Cambodia since, systematically strengthening his grasp over the nation, supported by US$5 billion in aid granted to Cambodia by western governments from the money of the taxpayers like me and you. In return, Hun Sen and his Cambodian People Party exploit natural and historical resources rights over which are given to private parties with close ties to his corrupt government.
Removal of Hun Sen’s opponents is ongoing. After topping his first premier Pen Sovann, Hun Sen then arranged to have Premier Chan Si offed in a Moscow hospital. Police General Heng Pov, also known for being the most corrupt police officer in Cambodia (being the most corrupt cop in the most corrupt country must be quite something) used to be Hun Sen’s advisor but after his fallout, he found himself in Cambodian jail where he sits without disturbing any more of Hun Sen’s peace. Heng Pov’s henchman Hok Lundi was killed in a dubious helicopter crash that was never investigated.
Hun Sen has become the world’s worst dictator and human rights abuser but his dictatorship is modern and sophisticated. Khmer Rouge took the wrong route and enraged international community. Cambodian People Party is like Khmer Rouge – it continues to kill its own people, but not by direct bullet in the head, rather by depriving them of education, healthcare and justice. Dumbed down, sick and morally exhausted population can’t threaten the position of a dictator, but it brings billions of dollars in humanitarian aid. Works well for Hun Sen. Khmer Rouge is outdated, Cambodian People Party is much more advanced version of it which instead of attracting condemnation of the international communities, attracts free money. Keep economy purposefully slow by giving all real money making opportunities to your supporters, it will keep the majority of the people deprived from any real chance to make it, allow their poverty and poor living standards be seen and then just watch foreign money roll in. While millions of your own people out there starve on less than $.50 a day, you and a handful of your close allies will drive a new $500,000 car each year while enjoying five star vacations in world’s poshiest resorts at least once a month.
This is real Cambodia and every single dollar you donate ends up in already unimaginably fat bank accounts of Hun Sen and his supporters. After decades of sending billions of dollars to elevate poverty in Cambodia, not one family has seen improvement in their living standards. The only living standards that continuously increase are those of Hun Sen and his approved few who have so much money they don’t know what to do with it anymore.
How is it possible that Cambodia makes billions of dollars from being home to Angkor Wat, additional billions of dollars as a result of excessive deforestation and mining, topped up with billions of dollars donated by western governments for government and administrative expenses, yet according to CIA world factbook, Cambodia’s external debts reached $4.127 in 2008? How is it possible that of 38,093 km of Cambodian roadways, only 2,977 are paved with infrastructure rebuilding taking near forever (Siem Reap to Poipet road took 8 years to finish. The road is 142 km long)? Yet military expenditures reach 3% of GDP.
Instead of allocating some of the resources generated by Cambodia to help alleviate poverty, dictator Hun Sen chooses to outsource mining and deforestation to foreign corporation in exchange for huge cuts from profits for himself. Thus natural resources which should belong to all Cambodians benefit only the elite lead by Hun Sen. Despite billions of dollars flowing in to Cambodia each year, living conditions for vast majority of Cambodians have not improved. Hun Sen is the prime minister and a sole dictator of Cambodia. If living standards of average people are the reflection of country’s leadership, then Hun Sen is a poor leader. Even after decades of his rule the poverty in Cambodia is as alarming as ever. So if Hun Sen is such incapable country leader, then why is he still prime minister? It’s because he’s a dictator. And as other dictators of modern times (Saddam Hussein, for example) he should be tried and have justice served upon him.