Polling data released by Gallup last month showed only two per cent of Cambodians believe themselves to be “thriving”, but it appears to have done little to hurt the Kingdom’s perception of its prime minister.
According to a survey released on Friday by the same global pollster, nine out of 10 Cambodians approve of the job Hun Sen is doing.
Based on nationwide surveys conducted in 2011, the prime minister is the second-most approved of leader in the 21 countries ranked, with a score of 93 per cent.
He was bested only by Laos President Choummali Saignason, who registered 97 per cent approval in his single-party state.
Gallup said the survey results had a four-point margin of error.
The group credited economic stability and “peace dividends” for the high approval rating for Hun Sen, whose ranking improved marginally between 2010 and the past year.
Shortly before national elections in 2008, Gallup released data it said indicated that Cambodians were “reluctant to risk leadership change” and that “many may have resigned themselves to the likelihood that long-time Prime Minister Hun Sen [will be relected]”.
At the time, only four per cent of the country was “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with the way democracy works in the Kingdom and 86 per cent of the population were either ambivalent or dissatisfied to some degree.
Last month, the group released results from another 2011 study that assessed what percentage of a state’s population believed themselves to be “thriving”, “struggling” or “suffering”.
Cambodia’s “thriving” population was the lowest out of 146 countries, with a score of just 2 per cent.
Koul Panha, executive director of election monitor Comfrel, said the seemingly divergent results, in which a majority of the population supports Hun Sen despite falling into the category of “struggling” or “suffering”, are linked to two factors.
“There is not full and free political discussion – all the TV, radio, all media are really controlled by the ruling [Cambodian People’s Party],” Koul Panha said.
“Also, there have been some achievements. People are very happy with the infrastructure and gift-giving.
“But if there was more political debate before these surveys were conducted, it would make the results more fair,” he added.