The World's longest serving prime minister and cambodia's pursuit of democracy

A Tiger Rules the Mountain

Read how the dichotomous twins of idealism and pragmatism, of freedom and power, and of hope and fear are pitched against each other, wrestling for the future of Cambodia. This is Cambodia through the lens of human stories in what journalists and politicians have called 'gripping', 'a tour de force' and 'a must read'.

“Intriguing, enriching”

Gareth Evans AC KC, former Australian Foreign Minister

“An intriguing kaleidoscope of Cambodian voices, giving enriching insights into why the country is still so far from becoming the true democracy its people need and deserve.’

“Vital reading”

Sebastian Strangio, journalist and author of Cambodia: From Pol Pot to Hun Sen and Beyond

‘An incisive account of Cambodian politics rich with the voices of ordinary people and keenly attuned to the country’s cultural and social dynamics, A Tiger Rules the Mountain is vital reading for anyone wanting to understand where Cambodia has come from, and where it might be going.’

“A must read, remarkable”

Prof Sophal Ear, Arizona State University

‘A must-read, at times gripping and remarkable ringside view of the last decade of Cambodia’s fight for the survival of democracy under a Leviathan Prime Minister who no longer brooks dissent.’

“A tour de force”

Sue Coffey, author of Seeking Justice in Cambodia

‘A tour de force. Conochie skillfully weaves a remarkable array of voices to reveal the complicated landscape of Cambodia today. He probes all sides of the political divide to show the nuances in a riveting, vital contribution to our understanding of Cambodia’s recent history.’

“A gripping story”

Tom Doig, award winning author of The Coal Face and Hazlewood

‘A gritty, from-the-ground-up view of recent Cambodian politics, which privileges the voices of ordinary Cambodians. Meticulously researched and spun into a gripping story by Conochie, this is a vital piece of narrative non-fiction and social history.’

“Extraordinarily compelling”

Mary Ann Jolley, Senior Reporter, Al Jazeera

“An extraordinarily compelling tale of the courage it takes to stand up to one of world’s most repressive and corrupt regimes and why the “little” people of Cambodia need the support of the international community more than ever.’

What’s the book about?

Freedom, Power, Hope and Fear

Cambodia’s Hun Sen was the world’s longest-serving prime minister, in power since 1985, until handing power over to his son in August 2023.

Hun Sen’s plans for a dynasty were nearly ripped up in 2013 however, when the exiled opposition leader, Sam Rainsy, unexpectedly returned just before a national election. One hundred thousand supporters hailed him at the airport as protests swept the country. On election day, millions voted for change. This narrative non-fiction account tells the dramatic story of that election and the subsequent multi-year wrestle for power, right through to the dramatic events of the present day.

This is Cambodia through the lens of the human stories. I lived and worked in the country and interviewed many involved in the events, including government officials, journalists, young human-rights activists and opposition politicians. The story is complex and riveting: Cambodia’s history is riven with trauma yet there is a powerful and swelling appetite for change. Looking ahead to Cambodia’s future and the role of democracy in South-East Asia, I examine whether we will continue to see a backslide in liberal democracy or if the region could gradually be on the path to a more liberal future.

Signs of the CPP

Cambodia is covered by signs paying tribute to the ruling Cambodian Peoples Party (CPP)

The Tigers

Meet the tigers fighting to control the mountains of Cambodia

Chasing the Tiger

Read how A Tiger was born as the question became clear and I began chasing the tiger.

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