A spokesperson for the Ministry of the Interior compared Dy Vichea’s appointment to President Trump promoting his family members to high-ranking positions
Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen has promoted his son-in-law, Dy Vichea, to deputy chief of the National Police effective 16 January, according to Reuters news agency.
Vichea formerly led the Ministry of Interior’s Central Security Department and is married to the premier’s eldest daughter, Hun Mana, who is the chairwoman of the Kampuchea Thmey Daily and Bayon TV and Radio.
In an interview with the Phnom Penh Post, Khieu Sopheak, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior, confirmed that Vichea’s performance within the ministry was indeed worthy of promotion and not, as some might speculate, a case of nepotism.
“There is no law in Cambodia that states that [Vichea] cannot get promoted. However, like in the US, when Donald Trump became the president, [his] children got promoted [and] no one said anything, and there is no law, too,” said Sopheak to the Phnom Penh Post.
Sopheak went on to make more comparisons between the premier and Trump in an interview with Reuters, during which he cited the US president’s appointment of his daughter, Ivanka Trump, to be his informal advisor.
Hun Sen’s son-in-law, however, will be coming to his new position with more family history than the US president’s daughter came to hers, as his father, the late Hok Lundy, served as Cambodia’s National Police Chief from 1994 to 2008.
The reaction to Vichea’s appointment has not been met with a positive response from the international community, with US-based Human Rights Watch suggesting the promotion is just Hun Sen’s latest attempt to consolidate power ahead this year’s general election.
“Prime Minister Hun Sen aims to cement total control over Cambodian government and business, and appointing his son-in-law as deputy police chief is part of that ongoing effort,” Phil Robertson, deputy director for Asia at the Human Rights Watch group, told Reuters.
The main opposition that could’ve challenged the ruling Cambodian People’s Party in this July’s election, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, was dissolved in November at the request of Hun Sen’s government.
This is not the first time that Vichea’s climbing through the ranks has been called into question, with his 2014 promotion to director of the Central Security Department at the Ministry of Interior being closely followed with accusations of nepotism.
Police spokesman Kirt Chantharith defended the move at the time and was quoted in an interview with the Phnom Penh Post as saying:
“His Excellency Dy Vichea has gone through a myriad of low-status [positions], and the last post for him was deputy director of the Central Security Department, so assuming the post as the director is appropriate in the hierarchy.”
Vichea is not the only member of Hun Sen’s family to hold important roles within the Cambodian government.
Neth Savoeun, who is married to the prime minister’s niece, is the national police chief, while Hun Sen’s eldest son, lieutenant general Hun Manet, holds the position of being deputy commander of the armed forces.
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