A Tiger Rules the Mountain

The world's longest serving Prime Minister and Cambodia's pursuit of democracy

The Signs of the CPP

A poster of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) can be seen lit by a lamp post at the Japanese bridge in Phnom Penh. July 13, 2013. Credit: Erika Pineros
Chapter 4, To The Rescue

‘As we sped out of Phnom Penh, I saw the same CPP sign that was dotted along every road throughout Cambodia. The sign showed the holy trinity of Hun Sen and two other CPP leaders looking out over the country that they ruled. The deification of Hun Sen had been achieved by his physical presence in the life of every village, his face on signs and his name on schools. Like his emblems of development, Hun Sen’s authority was apparently concrete and permanent. But concrete is made of sand, and the sands of Cambodia were shifting.’

Chapter 3, the man in charge

‘Teachers I knew, and indeed any person working for a government body or public service, would be called to meetings during which their bosses would instruct them that the CPP had saved Cambodia from the Khmer Rouge bringing peace, stability and development, all of which would be at risk if the CPP wasn’t in government.

Huge signs, emblazoned with “the Cambodian People’s Party” and not “the Royal Government of Cambodia”, appeared on roads throughout the country advertising the schools, hospitals, pagodas and roads that have been built, often with aid money that went unmentioned. Some schools are named after Hun Sen or other CPP leaders, reminding parents and schoolchildren who they should be grateful to as they are spun a narrative that it is Hun Sen who has built Cambodia.’

election 2022

Chea Sim had died so it was now Heng Samrin and Hun Sen who adorned the giant signs.

Election 2022

It was becoming more common to see signs of Hun Sen only.

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The Tiger’s Tail

A Cambodian friend inspired the title for this book as we got blown on the beach in Melbourne