Opinion by Khmerization
“The sacking of Gen. Ke Kimyan should send shiver down the spines of some political and military heavyweights who are on the wrong side of Mr. Hun Sen’s. If Gen. Ke Kimyan can be sacked, no one else is safe. Mr. Hun Sen will not stop there. Next could be Mr. Sar Kheng, the Minister of Interior and Gen. Tea Banh, the Minister of Defence. The fate of Mr. Chea Sim’s faction, of which the CPP’s old guards and party founders belong to, is near its end. They will not survive past the next election in 2013.”
Mr. Hun Sen’s sacking of Gen. Ke Kimyan from his post as the Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces has been viewed by many observers as another attempt by Mr. Hun Sen to solidify his power base in the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). The sacking has probably resulted from an internal squabbling and a power struggle between the Chea Sim’s faction, of which Gen. Ke Kimyan belongs to, and Mr. Hun Sen’s faction. The sacking has changed the CPP’s internal political and military landscape dramatically. In short, it is the beginning of the demise of the Chea Sim’s faction politically and militarily, because the new commander-in-Chief, Gen. Pol Saroeun and seven other Deputy Commander-in-Chiefs, are all Mr. Hun Sen’s loyalists.
Gen. Ke Kimyan, one of the most honest and best Cambodian military leaders, has been a thorn in Mr. Hun Sen’s eyes for a long time. He wanted to lead the Cambodian army professionally and relatively independent of politics. He has resisted Hun Sen’s attempt to monopolise his control on the army. He has resisted Mr. Hun Sen’s orders to send troops to counter Gen. Serey Kosal’s threats of a partition of Battambang province during a brief military clash in 1995 between the troops loyal to the CPP and troops loyal to the Funcinpec Party. He has refused to participate in a military coup against Prince Ranariddh’s Funcinpec Party in 1997.
Mr. Hun Sen has been reportedly attempted to remove Gen. Ke Kimyan from his post after the 1998 election and replaced him with his own son, Hun Manet. After the 2003 election, Hun Sen again attempted to sack Gen. Ke Kimyan, but, both times, he failed.
Gen. Ke Kimyan has so far weathered Mr. Hun Sen’s storm unscathed, until yesterday. His military career, if not over, will be reduced to a powerless and idle role. He will be languishing in a military limbo for years to come. His fate might not be any different from police Gen. Heng Pov’s, who had a fallout with the late Gen. Hok Lundy and then with Mr. Hun Sen and was jailed for 35 years.
What does the sacking of Gen. Ke Kimyan mean? The consequence of the sacking would be manifolds. It would mean a deepened political divisions between Mr. Chea Sim’s and Mr. Hun Sen’s faction of the CPP. It will cause some internal military mistrusts and a disquietness within the military ranks. Many middle- and lower-ranked military officers will be very angry because Gen. Ke Kimyan is very popular and loved by the lower ranks. On the contrary, the new appointees, in particular Gen. Kun Kim, are disliked by the lower ranks.
The sacking of Gen. Ke Kimyan should send shiver down the spines of some political and military heavyweights who are on the wrong side of Mr. Hun Sen’s. If Gen. Ke Kimyan can be sacked, no one else is safe. Mr. Hun Sen will not stop there. Next could be Mr. Sar Kheng, the Minister of Interior and Gen. Tea Banh, the Minister of Defence. The fate of Mr. Chea Sim’s faction, of which the CPP’s old guards and party founders belong to, is near its end. They will not survive past the next election in 2013.
Mr. Hun Sen’s political conquest will only end when he has achieved his political and military supremacy in Cambodia. He has so far secured 90% control of the political and military power base as well as the police and the bureaucracy. His political conquest will only be halted when he will achieve total control of his political and military power in Cambodia or when his life ended.
I would not be surprised if one day Mr. Hun Sen died in a helicopter crash just like the fate of his most loyal lieutenant, Gen. Hok Lundy. He has angered too many people within the CPP, especially the old guards and the party founders, who are currently sidelined by Mr. Hun Sen in favours of the young turks. And I am not surprised if plots to assassinate him are on the making from now on and I can predict that they will be hatched any time.
Now Mr. Hun Sen has achieved near total control of the Cambodian military and police as well as the civil administration. Now he can be dubbed as the emperor, or, to be exact, the Caesar of Cambodian politics.