A Change of Guard

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Sunday, 17 April 2016

Cambodian leader baffled by protests, city denunciation

Cambodian leader baffled by protests, city denunciation
By Grant Welker, gwelker@lowellsun.com
UPDATED:   04/16/2016

Sun editorial board interview with Hun Manet, lieutenant general in the Royal Cambodian Air Force and son of Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen. (SUN/Julia Malakie) (Julia Malakie

Protesting against the government is acceptable in Cambodia, Manet said, as long as it isn't violent.

LOWELL -- Hun Manet, a lieutenant general in the Cambodian military, said Saturday he was "puzzled" by opposition to his visit to this country, but portrayed the criticism as coming from a vocal minority who closed themselves off to an exchange of ideas during his stop.

Manet's stop in Lowell comes at the end of a four-state American trip coinciding with the Cambodian New Year, a trip he said has "not been a success" due to Cambodian-Americans in Lowell and Long Beach, Calif., speaking out against him.

Many critics connect Manet, son of Prime Minister Hun Sen, to human-rights and corruption allegations that have long been made against the Cambodian government, as well as to the deadly Khmer Rouge regime that far precedes him but was the reason many sought refuge in the United States.

Manet, who is soft-spoken and well-polished as a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, repeatedly criticized that opposition as closed-minded and not representative of all Cambodians in the United States.

"When you strike, that's when you shut off ideas already," Manet said of protesters in an hourlong interview with The Sun Editorial Board.

Manet has been met with protests throughout his visit. In Long Beach, Cambodian-Americans were urged to not participate in a Cambodian New Year parade because Manet was scheduled to take part. He withdrew.

In Lowell, hundreds of the city's estimated 30,000 Cambodian-Americans filled City Hall to urge councilors to not officially recognize Manet's visit.

The City Council voted last month to "denounce" the visit, to not have officials meet with him at City Hall, and to reject a gift from the Cambodian government.
"I have no chance of defending myself," Manet said.

Manet appeared stung by the rejection, as well as confused that the city would not accept a statue of Jayavarmin VII, a king of the Khmer Empire centuries ago and a beloved figure in Cambodian culture.

Earlier this month, several experts on Cambodia told The Sun they were not surprised by the opposition to Manet's visit in Lowell and Long Beach, the two largest Cambodian communities in the United States. An author of a book on Cambodia under Hun Sun said the ruling party has been "engaging in a charm offensive" in Cambodian communities abroad in recent years.

But Manet said his trip was meant to spread word of strides Cambodia has made in recent years, specifically that it is among the fastest-growing economies in the world and among the fastest in eliminating poverty.

"We have moved from a poor country to a low middle-class country," he said.

Manet traveled with a delegation of a few dozen people, including top representatives in commerce, education, tourism and other areas where he hoped to make connections with Cambodians living in America. He appeared to anticipate questions about human rights and freedom of speech, even offering photos that he said showed how some government security officials had been injured at out-of-control protests.

Manet defended the imprisonment of a media director for the opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, and of an opposition lawmaker. The lawmaker, Um San An, had incited potential violence by posting false maps of a sensitive subject in Cambodia: border disputes with Vietnam.

Protesting against the government is acceptable in Cambodia, Manet said, as long as it isn't violent.

Manet, who is in his late 30s, bridges two worlds. He has a Western education but is the oldest son of a prime minister who has been in office for 30 years and has been sharply criticized by human-rights watchdogs. He has been speculated by some to be his father's heir-apparent.

Asked whether he has a future as a potential prime minister, Manet said he hasn't thought about political office. Instead, he said he focuses on his obligations now as a lieutenant general.

"To handle that is a daunting task already," he said. He also deflected a question about whether he gives suggestions to his father. 

"He has all the bright minds behind him," Manet said with a smile.

The interview often returned back to the protests at City Hall several weeks ago that, like those in Long Beach, have marred Manet's trip.

Manet lamented the latest turn in relations between Cambodia and its largest communities abroad. He said he would work to show Cambodians in the United States the good that Cambodia has done to even out what he called unbalanced news reaching Cambodians abroad.

"I give people the truth, from our perspective, what the government has done," he said. Referring to the Lowell protests, he added: "Two hundred people does not represent the opinion of the people."


Anonymous said...

If Dr.Hun Manet claimed he is baffled by why the Khmer people detest him and his father, then he should surrender his PhD degree.

Anonymous said...

Has that prick manith realized by now as to why he has been protested against everywhere he has been to in the US.is he naive?or he blatantly wants to be good guy?.
I wonder the jailing of Mea Sovanara, the head of communication of CNRP was personal rather than anything else? there is no evidence to suggest otherwise.Let's assume that it was a criminal case against Sovanara. With Western education from west point,he didn't see anything wrong with it that it was blatantly a kangaroo court.He sides with the court's decision. This is exactly as to why Khmer in the US denounce him. I wonder how he feels if he and other cpp monkeys are put through the kangaroo courts like that and blatantly convicted of drummed up charges?.
Well I hope that ah manith decides to face justice in a US
court,be challenged, cross examined and will be convicted.But I don't think he will, because he can't defend the indefensible of this fucking regime.He would rather face a consequence of not being able to step on US soil than be humiliated and lost face publicly.
I wonder the high ranking cpp monkeys would be afraid to step on the US soil if Mr Morton Skla succeeded in suing
hun manith and the fucking cambodia govt and of course the monkey body guard hold to account?.

Anonymous said...

In order to built strong nation we built peoples first. No kid left behind one hundred percent of all khmer children must attend schools. That the hun sen philosophy behind schools building in the past...

Over 3000 school was built in 3 years and more. ...

what raincy contribute to our society. He criticize hun sen building school. He put all energy to stop hun sen building schools. ..and Khmerization your Glorified raincy for decades. Right ama. . Zing. Amazing sir. You really did a great jobs helping the trash raincy. . Thank you sir and continue your mission to destroy khmer ..

and now your supper un civilized hero in Long beach .they yield at DR . MANET ( SHAM ON YOU.). good luck sir. .

As long as Khmer rough still exists the destruction and genocide still s threatening khmer peoples. Khmerization look how big headache for the governors in CA. USA

. All Those ex khmer rough are on welfare right. And now they changed the cultural parade to uncivilized bushman culture by yield to each other on the street.

This was the true colors of khmer rough ideolog and culture. ..Best wish to your hero raincy. ...

Anonymous said...

Khmerization please stay away from toxic peoples you can't change toxic peoples anyways right.
Thy sovantha raincy kem sokha. . They used to be your hero. Right. Why. ?.

They all are muckraker the more they curs hun sen the more you guy donate money night. Remember those muckraker mouthpiece and hun sen hater alway got rich right. .sir it's a pure dirty business. .it's all about money. ..
1 raincy do not own any house in srok khmer.
2. No raincy relative brother or sister got involved in politics
3 raincy daughter was sent to study at Harvard the most expensive school on eath. Right.
4. Kem sokha used old car rav 4 Toyota. Before do politics.
5 . kem steal rice
6. Kem steal money from Iri
7.kem cheat many young girls
8. Kem got over hundred hectare pepper farm
9. Kem got 210 000 dola Lexus and 4 other luxurious car
10 kem got 2 villas right.

Now sir you got it clear. It crystal clear your hero raincy and kem sokha are a pure cheater. Aren't they. ? Does it make any sense sir that you Glorified these swine muckraker as your hero.

Please tell the world to eliminate toxic peoples and start to help my innocent khmer. Why can't you. ?..Mike

Anonymous said...

18 April 2016 at 00:04

Ah Leukeu Mike,

Ask yourself and your mother (fucker) before you ask other people: How many shit did you poop on Cambodia land?

If you just only shit on Cambodia, then shut your mouth hole up Ah Leukeu.

Anonymous said...

The Mousy !

We all know you're Yuon's poopoo !