In the home province of the late national police chief Hok Lundy, his reputation as a reformer, fundraiser and benefactor overshadow any of the human rights complaints leveled against him.
As he rose through the ranks of the Cambodian People’s Party and its political positions, an increasing amount of development came to Svay Rieng, where Hok Lundy was born and raised—and where he perished in a helicopter crash Sunday night.
According to longtime residents of the province, Hok Lundy’s father was a policeman during the regime of Lon Nol. The Khmer Rouge killed his mother in Bavet commune. Village elders helped him escape death at the hands of the regime, leading him to Vietnam with other villagers. He returned in 1979, as a soldier in the United Front for the National Salvation of Kampuchea, led by Heng Samrin.
He served as deputy secretary of the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kampuchea, a precursor of the Cambodian People’s Party. In 1987, he was appointed governor of Svay Rieng province, a post he held until he became governor of Phnom Penh, from 1990 to 1994.
In 1994, he became chief of national police, a title that earned him a reputation as a powerful CPP official and condemnation for alleged collaboration in many serious rights abuses, including murder.
A gloomy Pen Phen, 60, white-haired and seated in the shade of his home in Bavet commune, Chantreav district, where Hok Lundy was raised said: “We very much regret the death of Hok Lundy, because Hok Lundy helped to develop 60 percent of the commune in his homeland, like building roads, bridges, infrastructure, schools, Buddhist pagodas, as well as helping attract foreign investment.”
“After I heard of Hok Lundy’s death, feeling left my body, and I thought I was a man who had lost one arm or one leg,” Pen Phen said. “Hok Lundy’s death will affect the development project in this area. He planned to enlarge Bavet to become a modern border city.”
According to “Twenty-Six Years in the Participation of Svay Rieng Development,” a booklet by former high school director Tea Hun, Hok Lundy spurred 53 development projects, from pagodas, schools, a university, district offices, district police posts, border protection buildings, roads, bridges, infrastructure and playgrounds.
Hok Lundy, in the role of national police chief and the
province’s CPP deputy chief, had ambitions to develop
Bavet commune as a model town and center of trade, said 45-year-old resident Mo Sin Yi. Hok Lundy hoped to increase his influence
in the promotion of the development of the province, he said.
“We appreciate the achievements of Hok Lundy’s developments in Svay Rieng,” he said. “And we are very concerned for the development of the province after him.”
Hok Lundy had
initiatives to fundraise for the construction and furnishing of Svay Rieng
University, where more
than 2,000 students now study, half of them on a “Hun Sen Scholarship.”
“When Hok Lundy became the national police chief, he helped develop Svay Rieng better than before,” said Kong Kakakda, a 21-year-old student of agronomy at the university who was discussing the news of Hok Lundy’s death with his friends in their dormitory.
Mot Savat, 20, a third-year student of rural development at
the university, said he did not believe reports that Hok Lundy violated laws or human rights.
“His activities were for the people and the students,” he said.