Sunday, August 20, 2023: the Sunday prior to…

PM-designate Hun Manet and his future members of cabinet pose for photo. Photo: Samdech Hun Sen of Cambodia / Facebook

With, these coming Monday and Tuesday, the opening session of the National Assembly elected during the July 23 National Elections that ended with an overwhelming majority for the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), and the appointment of Hun Manet to the position of prime minister as well as his government in which will appear many “young ones” in key positions—especially at the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of National Defence—the country is entering a new phase, not a new era, of its political history.

After about four decades in power, the Jan. 7, 1979 generation passes the mantle to its direct descendants coming from its families and/or the CPP.   

No change of policy direction in sight since the CPP remains in charge.    

Few changes on the horizon in the administration of the country either since it was announced that, except if they have reached the age limit, the secretaries of state, under-secretaries of state, governors as well as senior ministry officials would keep their status even if they are assigned to new positions.    

It is therefore rather a change of style in the way power is embodied that one must expect.   

But is it enough to build one’s reputation in History?

The Jan. 7, 1979 generation built its legitimacy on its direct military involvement in the battle that led to the defeat of Pol Pot’s genocidal regime and its undeniable contribution to the country’s recovery after these “4 years, 8 months, 20 days” of nightmare. The Win-Win Monument has been intended as an irreplaceable marker of this historical legitimacy. In the speeches of this generation, everything started from there and everything went back to it: 1) with us, the country overcame chaos; 2) we are the only ones guaranteeing that this chaos will not return.

The new generation of leaders coming from the CPP have been fed this ideological foundation. But they will only be able to claim this link with the “liberation” by proxy.     

It is therefore for them to create their own legitimacy through words, speeches and actions that will demonstrate that they are not only heirs of the past but the architects of a future for the country for which they will have themselves designed the plans.  

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