Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has warned officials about the dangers that nepotism poses for the Cambodian government, telling a closed-door meeting of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party this week that relatives should stay out of ministry affairs, sources said. Hun Sen’s warning is unlikely to have any real impact on a Cambodian government already rife with corruption and where the prime minister himself has installed several of his relatives in positions of power.

Hun Sen’s middle son, Lt. Gen. Hun Manith, is director of the Defense Ministry’s military intelligence unit. Hun Many, a member of parliament and Hun Sen’s youngest son, said he intends to succeed his father in the authoritarian Southeast Asian country’s leader. Even within the government, it is unclear what Hun Sen meant during the January 10 meeting. Om Yin Tieng, head of Cambodia’s official Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) told RFA’s Khmer Service that Hun Sen was discussing an issue focused only on the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). “Please be informed that this is an issue involving only the party,” he told RFA. “The jobs performed by the ACU are independent.” “I ask you not to get involved in any interference as to what was said in the meeting. Don’t make it mixed and convoluted.”

Strong laws needed

Without strong laws prohibiting nepotism, it’s unlikely that Cambodia can restrict the practice that helps foment corruption, explained Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia. “We do not have laws that are clear on the issues of nepotism or conflicts of interest,” Preap Kol explained. “In the past, it is the lack of such laws that made us have problems. Even in an institution like the National Assembly, such issues are still found, and they exist in almost all institutions in Cambodia.”