Famous Cambodian Leaders

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Perched on the southern portion of Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia, Cambodia is a populous country bordered by Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Gulf of Thailand. Formerly known as Khmer Empire, the country served as the home of first ancient Khmer kingdom. The Kingdom of Cambodia is a constitutional monarchy with an elected monarch as the head of the state. It also has a head of government, who is primarily vested with executive powers and is responsible for the smooth functioning of the country. The political landscape of the country is not a vibrant one – it suffers from lack of political freedom and has mainly an authoritarian kind-of leadership enwrapped over superficial democracy. Hun Sen is the current Prime Minister of Cambodia who has been in the office since 1985. An undisputed ruler, his rule is now in the league with long-running dictators such as Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Kazakhstan’s Nursultan Nazabayev. Interestingly, Hun Sen does not have any political background. In fact, he hails from a peasant family and has become the longest serving non-royal leader in Southeast Asia. Quite unbelievable isn’t it? For more interesting facts about the life of Cambodian political leaders, read on.
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 1 
Norodom Sihanouk
(Former Ruler of Cambodia)
Norodom Sihanouk
5
Birthdate: October 31, 1922
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Royal Palace, Phnom Penh
Died: October 15, 2012
Apart from taking over as the king of Cambodia at 18, Norodom Sihanouk had also been the country’s prime minister later. A multidimensional personality and a Khmer Rouge supporter, he had also composed a number of patriotic tracks and experimented with filmmaking, infusing Western elements into his work.
 2 
Norodom Sihamoni
(Ruler of Cambodia)
Norodom Sihamoni
5
Birthdate: May 14, 1953
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Royal Palace, Phnom Penh

Norodom Sihamoni has had an interesting childhood, from studying in Czechoslovakia to joining a film school in North Korea, to moving to China after the fall of Pol Pot. A skilled choreographer who had his own dance troupe in Paris, he later rather reluctantly became the king of Cambodia.

 3 
Hun Sen
(Prime Minister of Cambodia)
Hun Sen
8
Birthdate: August 5, 1952
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Stueng Trang District, Cambodia

Hun Sen is a Cambodian politician and the current prime minister of Cambodia. Having assumed office in 1985, Hun Sen is one of the world's longest-serving leaders and the longest-serving Cambodian head of government. Over the years, he has been accused of abusing power as a number of activists, environmentalists, and politicians have been arrested and murdered under his government.

 4 
Suryavarman II
(King of the Khmer Empire (1113 - 1150))
Suryavarman II
4
Birthdate: 1094 AD
Birthplace: Angkor
Died: 1150 AD

The ruler of the Khmer Empire, Suryavarman II is known to be the founder of the famed Angkor Wat in Cambodia. His rule extended from Thailand to Vietnam. He is believed to have died while on a military campaign against Champa,following which, Angkor was taken over by the Chams.

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 5 
Norodom Ranariddh
(Politician)
Norodom Ranariddh
3
Birthdate: January 2, 1944
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Phnom Penh

Former Cambodian prime minister Norodom Ranariddh had started his career as a researcher and lecturer of law at the University of Provence in France. Son of former king, Sihanouk, he is credited with ushering in democracy in Cambodia and now leads the royalist party FUNCINPEC, as its president.

 6 
Pol Pot
(Prime Minister of Cambodia from 1976 to 1979)
Pol Pot
28
Birthdate: May 19, 1925
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Prek Sbov, Cambodia
Died: April 15, 1998

Pol Pot was a Cambodian politician who served as the prime minister of Democratic Kampuchea from 1975 and 1979. Widely considered a totalitarian dictator, Pol Pot was responsible for the Cambodian genocide, which resulted in the death of 1.5 to 2 million people. He was found guilty of crimes against humanity and placed under house arrest until his death.

 7 
Ta Mok
(Cambodian Military Chief and a Senior Figure in the 'Khmer Rouge')
Ta Mok
3
Birthdate: 1924 AD
Birthplace: Takéo Province, Cambodia
Died: July 21, 2006

Ta Mok was a Cambodian soldier and military chief. He was one of the most important members of the Khmer Rouge. Nicknamed the Butcher, Ta Mok also led the national army of Democratic Kampuchea. He was captured by Cambodian government forces in March 1999 and was kept in government custody until his demise in 2006.

 8 
Sam Rainsy
(Politician)
Sam Rainsy
2
Birthdate: March 10, 1949
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Phnom Penh

Sam Rainsy is a Cambodian politician, economist, and activist who served as the leader of the opposition from January 2015 to November 2015. He is credited with co-founding the Cambodia National Rescue Party, which was Cambodia's major political party from 2013 to 2017.

 9 
Son Sen
(Cambodian Politician who Ordered the Massacre of 100,000 People in 1978)
Son Sen
2
Birthdate: June 12, 1930
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Tra Vinh, Vietnam
Died: June 15, 1997

Son Sen was a Cambodian soldier and Communist politician. An important member of the Communist Party of Kampuchea aka the Khmer Rouge, Sen was accountable for the massacre of over 100,000 people in Cambodia's Eastern Zone in 1978. Son Sen is also remembered for his service as the Minister of National Defense from 15 January 1976 to 7 January 1979.  

 10 
Kem Sokha
(Former President of the 'Cambodia National Rescue Party')
Kem Sokha
2
Birthdate: June 27, 1953
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Cambodia

Kem Sokha is a Cambodian activist and politician. He is known for his service as the President of the Cambodia National Rescue Party. He also led the Human Rights Party, which he had founded, from 2007 to 2012. In 2017, Kem Sokha was arrested and imprisoned under allegations of treason. From 2018 to 2019, he was placed under house arrest.

 11 
Ieng Thirith
(Influential Intellectual and Politician in the 'Khmer Rouge')
Ieng Thirith
2
Birthdate: March 10, 1932
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Battambang, Cambodia
Died: August 22, 2015

Ieng Thirith was an influential politician and intellectual in the Khmer Rouge. The wife of Ieng Sary, who co-founded the Khmer Rouge, Thirith served as the Minister of Social Affairs from 1975 to 1979. In 2007, she was arrested along with her husband by the Cambodia Tribunal on suspicion of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity.

 12 
Mu Sochua
(Cambodian Women's Rights Activist and Politician)
Mu Sochua
1
Birthdate: May 15, 1954
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Mu Sochua is a Cambodian women's rights activist and politician. An important member of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, Mu Sochua's work has been honored with several prestigious awards and nominations, such as her nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for her work to counter sex trafficking of women in Thailand and Cambodia.

 13 
Son Sann
(Former Prime Minister of Cambodia (1967 – 1968))
Son Sann
1
Birthdate: October 5, 1911
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Phnom Penh
Died: December 19, 2000

Son Sann was a Cambodian anti-communist resistance leader and politician. He is best remembered for his service as the Prime Minister of Cambodia from 1 May 1967 to 31 January 1968. Son Sann is also credited with forming a new political party called the Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party.

 14 
Lon Nol
(Cambodian Politician)
Lon Nol
3
Birthdate: November 13, 1913
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Prey Veng Province
Died: November 17, 1985

Lon Nol was a Cambodian general and politician. He served as the prime minister of Cambodia from 1966 to 1967 and again from 1969 to 1971. A nationalist, Nol played a decisive role during the 1970 Cambodian coup d'état where he led the military coup against Prince Norodom Sihanouk. The coup led to the abolition of the monarchy of Cambodia.

 15 
Norodom Rattana Devi
(Cambodian Princess and Politician)
Norodom Rattana Devi
1
Birthdate: June 18, 1974
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Aix-en-Provence, France

Norodom Rattana Devi is a Cambodian politician and princess. She is best known for her service as a Member of Parliament for Kratié from 4 October 2003 to 27 July 2008. Norodom Rattana Devi is also known as the only daughter of Princess Norodom Marie and Prince Norodom Ranariddh.

 16 
Yun Yat
(Wife of Cambodian Politician Son Sen)
Yun Yat
1
Birthdate: 1934 AD
Birthplace: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Died: June 15, 1997

Yun Yat was a Cambodian politician who served as the Minister of Information from 6 July 1977 to 7 January 1979. She was also known as the wife of Defense Minister of Democratic Kampuchea, Son Sen. Yun Yat and Son Sen were arrested and declared as traitors for working as spies for Vietnam. They were executed in 1997.

 17 
Nuon Chea
(Chief Ideologist of the Khmer Rouge)
Nuon Chea
4
Birthdate: July 7, 1926
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Voat Kor, Battambang, Cambodia, French Indochina
Died: August 4, 2019

Nuon Chea was a Cambodian revolutionary and politician who served as the chief ideologist of the Khmer Rouge. From 27 September 1976 to 25 October 1976, he served as the prime minister of the Democratic Kampuchea. In 2014, he was convicted of crimes against humanity and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Nuon Chea died in 2019 while serving his sentence.

 18 
Kang Kek Iew
(Cambodian War Criminal and Khmer Rouge Leader)
Kang Kek Iew
4
Birthdate: November 17, 1942
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Cambodia
Died: September 2, 2020

Khmer Rouge leader Kang Kek Iew headed the Cambodian government’s internal security branch and was in charge of the Tuol Sleng (S-21) prison camp. Charged with crimes against humanity, he was punished with 30 years of imprisonment, a sentence that was later extended to life imprisonment.

 19 
Men Sam An
(The First Female Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia)
Men Sam An
0
Birthdate: August 15, 1953
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Sambo, Kratié, Cambodia

Men Sam An is a Cambodian politician and the current Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia. She is the first Cambodian female to serve as the deputy prime minister. Currently, Men Sam An is also serving as the Vice President of the Cambodian People's Party.

 20 
Tioulong Saumura
(Cambodian Member of Parliament for Phnom Penh (1998 - 2017))
Tioulong Saumura
0
Birthdate: July 9, 1950
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Tioulong Saumura is a Cambodian financial analyst and politician. From 1998 to 2017, she served as a Member of Parliament for Phnom Penh. A member of the infamous Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Tioulong Saumura was among the 118 senior party members who were banned from politics for five years in November 2017. 

 21 
Norodom Vichara
(Cambodian Princess and Member of Parliament (1998 - 2008))
Norodom Vichara
0
Birthdate: August 17, 1946
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Died: July 28, 2013

Cambodian princess Norodom Vichara was the daughter of Cambodian ruler Norodom Suramarit. A politician, too, she was part of the political party FUNCINPEC and represented the Phnom Penh Municipality in the country’s National Assembly. She eventually lost her battle with lung cancer at age 66.

 22 
Ing Kuntha Phavi
(Cambodian Political Leader)
Ing Kuntha Phavi
0
Birthdate: July 16, 1960
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Unknown

Apart from being a physician, Ing Kuntha Phavi is also a politician. The current Cambodian minister of women’s affairs, Phavi is a member of the Cambodian People's Party. She has also had a full-fledged medical career in France, working with the drug research department of ABR and as a member of AMC.

 23 
Chou Bun Eng
(Cambodian Politician)
Chou Bun Eng
0
Birthdate: April 10, 1956
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Unknown

Cambodian politician Chou Bun Eng is the current Secretary of State for the Interior and a member of the Cambodian People's Party. She is also the vice-chair of the Cambodian National Council for Women and the National Committee for Counter Trafficking. She is particularly focused on preventing trafficking of migrant workers.

 24 
Tong Siv Eng
(Cambodia's First Female Member of the Parliament and First Female Cabinet Minister)
Tong Siv Eng
0
Birthdate: October 31, 1919
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Unknown
Died: June 12, 2001

A pioneering female politician from Cambodia, Tong Siv Eng was her country’s first female MP and the first female minister. Both she and her husband were close aides of Cambodian king Sihanouk. She also served as an editor of Woman's Voice and left Cambodia following the coup of 1970.

 25 
Tep Sothy
(Cambodian Politician)
Tep Sothy
0
Birthdate: February 13, 1973
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kampong Cham Province, Cambodia

Initially a school teacher in the US, Tep Sothy later joined the Cambodian Human Rights Party and then the Cambodia National Rescue Party. The Cambodian politician now represents the Takeo province as an MP. She is mostly involved with the rights of women, children, and migrant workers.

 26 
Nin Saphon
(Cambodian Politician and Representative of the Takeo Province)
Nin Saphon
0
Birthdate: July 6, 1948
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Unknown

Cambodian politician and Cambodian People's Party member Nin Saphon has been an MP from the Takeo province. In February 2022, she headed a friendship committee from Cambodia, sent to Cuba, where she criticized the US’s hostile attitude to her country. She has also chaired the National Assembly’s commission on public works.

 27 
Som Kimsuor
(Cambodian Politician and Representative of the Kampot Province)
Som Kimsuor
0
Birthplace: Unknown

Cambodian politician Som Kimsuor is a member of the Cambodian People`s Party and has represented the Kampot Province as its MP. In 2021, she met State Auditor General of Vietnam Tran Sy Thanh and assured strengthening of bilateral ties between the 2 nations.

 28 
Ke Sovannaroth
(Cambodian Politician and Member of Parliament for Siem Reap (2003 - 2017))
Ke Sovannaroth
0
Birthdate: September 12, 1962
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Cambodian politician and Sam Rainsy Party member Ke Sovannaroth has not just served his party as its secretary-general but has also represented the Siem Reap Province as its MP. She has been part of the Cambodian National Rescue Committee and has chaired the parliament’s social affairs commission, too.