What DongYan fans should know about Cambodia PM Hun Sen

MANILA, Philippines – TV star Marian Rivera, along with husband and fellow actor Dingdong Dantes, were at the Midori Hotel in Clark, Pampanga on Saturday evening, November 11, to attend the welcome dinner hosted by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for world leaders attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.

Why? Because Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen wanted to meet the Filipina actress taking Cambodian television by storm.

Marian and DongYan fans were delighted of course that a head of government wants to meet their idols. But here's what fans should know about Hun Sen.

1. One of Asia's longest ruler

Hun Sen has been prime minister of Cambodia for 32 years, making him one of Asia's and the world's longest ruler. His rule has been called by critics as essentially authoritarian, and he has been accused of electoral fraud and corruption to keep his grip on power. (READ: Cambodia's Hun Sen denies buying up Facebook 'likes')

2. Khmer Rouge

Hun Sen was one of the soldiers for the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia's government in the 70s under Marxist leader Pol Pot.

The Khmer Rouge rule killed millions of people in Cambodia, and their skulls have been preserved in what are called 'killing fields' so the country does not forget the brutal regime.

Hun Sen denies being one of the top commanders of the Khmer Rouge.

3. Political killings

The Human Rights Watch describes Hun Sen's rule as "repressive." The group accuses Hun Sen of orchestrating systematic imprisonment and execution of dissident and activists opposed to him (READ: Man jailed for Facebook threat to Cambodian PM Hun Sen)

Kem Ley, an activist and Hun Sen's outspoken critic, was shot dead in Phnom Penh in 2016. Similar to the climate of of the Philippines when it comes to extrajudicial killings, no one has been made accountable for the deaths of activists in Cambodia.

But human rights groups point their finger to the prime minister.

"Hun Sen has ruled through violence and fear. He has often described politics as a struggle to the death between him and all those who dare to defy him," said the Human Rights Watch.

4. Mu Sochua

Mu Sochua is the deputy leader of the opposition party of Cambodia. She has fled Cambodia for fear of being arrested on charges of treason.

The party leader, Kem Sokha, was the first to be arrested for accusations of conspiring with the United States to overthrow the government. (READ: Half of Cambodia's opposition have fled crackdown, MP says)

Hun Sen's disdain for the US and what he calles western interference is what attracts him to President Rodrigo Duterte, who has pronounced the same sentiments to western countries.

5. China

Cambodia is a close Chinese ally. The support doesn't come without a cost.

China is Cambodia's biggest investor and donor.

This close relations is seen in the way Hun Sen blasted the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration for taking on, and then eventually favoring, Philippines' petition against China in the West Philippine Sea.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Mu Sochua said that while the Chinese aid will surely help Hun Sen push his agenda while clamping down on dissent, she hopes western countries can step in and impose sanctions.

Hun Sen is running for re-election in 2018, and he is very confident, saying he'll rule Cambodia for "another 10 years." – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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