Chinese medical experts arrive at Phnom Penh International Airport on March 23 to help Cambodian authorities deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo: Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP)
A new book detailing the exploits of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his battle against the coronavirus pandemic will hit the book shelves early next month.
According to the government-friendly Phnom Penh Post, the book’s title translates to English as “Hun Sen: The dashing hero who went against the current to fight Covid-19”. The book will record his actions amid the outbreak as a “historical fact”.
The Khmer Writers Association (KWA) has been contracted to produce the book on the region’s longest serving leader, who returned Cambodia to a one-party state at elections two years ago after banning the main political opposition party and suppressing independent media.
“[In] Cambodia, the government implements good measures. We don’t have dangers in our lives. We’ve seen infections, but we treated them all and they healed,” Pov Sok, Hun Sen’s adviser and KWA financier, told the Post.
Last week Cambodia declared all 122 patients who contracted Covid-19 had recovered from the virus amid speculation the government will soon end lockdown laws and reopen its borders.
Two more cases have since been admitted to hospital but infection rates in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos have been relatively light compared with elsewhere.
Hun Sen has also been accused of using the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse to introduce a new law that empowers him to restrict civil and political rights.
Pov Sok also said Hun Sen wanted people to understand that fear was the real disease, not Covid-19.
“He encouraged us not to be quick to get nervous. He fears that we are very concerned about the disease. If we are very nervous, we cannot deal with the virus. We get confused, so the senior leadership has measures in place,” he said.
Hun Sen was sharply criticized for ignoring health precautions taken elsewhere by allowing a cruise ship to dock in Cambodia in February.
That bravado won him fans at home amid the reassuring message that the rights of passengers trapped on MS Westerdam were important while noting then that Cambodia was virus-free.
The Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute director Kin Phea also told the Post that he approved of the book because it would be compiled by senior leaders and would teach younger generations about Covid-19 and the events surrounding it.
“But publishing the book in our country is difficult. It is very difficult to gain support from readers because reading in our country is limited. So, the book will be written but not so many people will read it,” he said.
About 2,500 copies of the Dashing Hero are expected from the first print run. It follows another book written about Hun Sen’s wife: Bun Rany, the wife of Cambodia’s strong man.