Magazine article Geographical

Hun Sen's Cambodia

Magazine article Geographical

Hun Sen's Cambodia

Article excerpt

Hun Sen's Cambodia

by Sebastian Strangio, Yale University Press, hb, 20 [pounds sterling]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

For most people, any knowledge of Cambodian history stops around 1979 --the year the Khmer Rouge fell, bringing to an end almost four years of genocidal behaviour. After 1979, it is probably assumed that, with strong foreign aid and regular elections, the country has followed a path of progress and democratisation. Reading Sebastian Strangio's new book, it is clear that this is anything but the case. What materialises is a depressing tale of a country that has been dominated by a small clique of self-centred leaders with little regard for the plight of the masses. Right from the first anecdote, of a female garment worker shot by an angry boss during a wage strike in 2012, who is then able to escape punishment by hiding out in the home of a major politician, modern Cambodia feels like a lawless country.

At the centre of the story is Hun Sen, Cambodia's prime minister for the last 29 years, who defected from the Khmer Rouge to join the Vietnamese forces that would eventually take down Pol Pot. …

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