Bun Rany Hun Sen: Financier

Dec 15, 2008
*Special to asia!
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Wife of CAMBODIA's Prime Minister Hun Sen

Bun Rany, 52, runs the Red Cross, gives help to HIV and the disabled and coordinates relief efforts for victims of natural disasters. In May, she prevailed over her husband to ban 3G services so Cambodians would not download pornographic materials over their phones.

Privately she is held in awe for different reasons.

A farmer's daughter, Bun Rany met her future husband when she was 18 and he, 20. Three years later a bloody Hun Sen, half paralysed and blinded in one eye, came into her care. She nursed him to health and married him. The couple have six children, three sons and three daughters.

Hun Sen owes her big time. Today she is a power unto herself, with lots of bodyguards and henchmen. In Phnom Penh, people say: "When Bun Rany is angry, get out of the way".

One who didn’t was actress Piseth Pilika, most beautiful of all Hun Sen’s mistresses. Today, seven years later, Cambodians still debate whether Bun Rany had her killed.

On July 6, 1999, a violent attack landed Pilika in the Calmete Hospital controlled by Hun Sen's CPP party.

Her sister Ouk Divina, who had since fled to safety in Paris, said Pilika feared for her life and wanted to be discharged. She was detained. Seven days later she was found dead in her room.

In November 1999, the French magazine L'Express claimed Pilika was twice warned of her danger – by the powerful police chief Hok Longdv, then by a hit team which refused to carry out the contract on her life. A second hit team killed her. Hok Longdv vehemently denied any involvement.

Hun Sen and Bun Rany, who talked about suing L’Express for defamation, did nothing in the end.

(A copy of Pilika’s "diary" is now available on the Internet with a French address https://pisethpilika.free.fr/. A book, published by her friends and titled The Story of Piseth Pilika with Prime Minister Hun Sen, sells very well under the counter. The book contained a poem handwritten by Hun Sen. The Prime Minister admitted he was the author but denied he wrote it for Pilika.)

Two women close to Hun Sen also faced danger. In late 1999, Keo Vimean Rattana was trapped in a car accident, but escaped with only a broken pelvis. Actress Ok Borei, warned of a contract on her head, took off to America. In 2001 she delivered a baby girl in Los Angeles.

Then there was Thun Bun Ly, editor of a newspaper who died mysteriously after calling Bun Rany "piggy". Again, the First Lady was said to be involved.

Bun Rany controls international aid money. In 1998 she elbowed aside Princess Marie, wife of opposition leader Prince Norodom Ranariddh, to take control of the Red Cross.

Since then there have been many accusations of money meant for charity flowing into the coffers of Hun Sen's CPP. In June, the World Bank threatened to freeze more than US$64 million destined for development projects because of "misuse of funds and misprocurement". It is anybody's guess where the money had gone.


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lee han shihLee Han Shih is the founder, publisher and editor of asia! Magazine.


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