“Lord Prime Minister and Supreme Military Commander” Hun Sen. Source: Flickr
Cambodia’s media has been threatened with legal action if it does not call Prime Minister Hun Sen “Lord Prime Minister and Supreme Military Commander”.
In Cambodian the wordy title “Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen” will be welcomed by scribes being paid by the word but few others. It must be used in the opening lines or headlines of newspaper reports and broadcast news about the increasingly oppressive leader from August.
The Information Ministry has issued similar warnings before, which have been largely ignored. The rule also applies to several ruling party members.
The ministry said journalists would also have to use the full titles of first lady Bun Rany Hun Sen, “Celebrated Senior Scholar Bun Rany Hun Sen”.
The first lady’s royal title refers to an honorary PhD although she did not graduate from university.
Hun Sen’s government puts legal pressure on critics and political opponents although officials gave no specifics on the punishment for flouting the rule, which they said was important to show respect for Cambodia’s leadership.
“We want you to state the full title of leaders in the story’s lead or first sentence,” Ouk Kimseng, an under-secretary of state, told the media, adding that titles could be edited on subsequent references within a story.
Hun Sen, one of the world’s longest-serving national leaders with more than 30 years in power, won re-election in 2013 amid claims of vote rigging.
The pro-government outlets already use Hun Sen’s full title in stories with the latest move seen as another tool against his critics.
“The Lord” Hun Sen is presumably modelling himself on some of the most dreadful examples of statesmanship. North Korean Kim Jong-Il retained the posthumous titles “eternal president” and “eternal general secretary” and former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin adopted the title: “His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular.”