Prime Minister Hun Sen this week issued a decision to establish a committee to produce a television drama series, “The Son Under the Full Moon,” about his life story.
The decision, dated Tuesday, says the committee will be headed by famed filmmaker and Information Ministry secretary of state Mao Ayuth, and also include National Military Police commander Sao Sokha and Hun Sen’s bodyguard unit chief Hing Bun Heang.
The document says the committee has the obligation to “produce the drama ‘The Son Under the Full Moon’ to be accurate, with scenes appropriate to the periods depicted and with high quality for each episode.”
The series has the same name as a long-time radio series about Hun Sen’s life.
Ayuth said that since being assigned to the work, he had met with the committee and divided tasks based on skills and roles. Work had begun to find period props such as motorbikes from the eras that will be depicted, and research into hairstyles and clothes, he said.
“We need to do this carefully and thoroughly because it is historical,” Ayuth said.
“When it is for his honor, we must try hard. … It is a huge honor that the top leader has put trust in us, so we must fulfill our obligations to meet his trust.”
Ayuth’s previous work was a $1-million film about Sdach Kan, a 16th-century king and one of Hun Sen’s favorite historical figures. In 2006, Hun Sen wrote a foreword to a scholar’s book on Kan, praising the king for pioneering class struggle and democracy. In recent years, several statues of Kan have been built around the country bearing a striking resemblance to Hun Sen.
Kan’s story is of a rise of a commoner to the throne, a parallel to Hun Sen’s rise from humble origins. Ayuth’s film about Kan, which was Cambodia’s most expensive, was bankrolled by tycoon Ly Yong Phat.
Government spokesperson Phay Siphan said there were many historical stories about Cambodia to be told, and it was not only about Hun Sen but the rise of the country — the history of Cambodia since gaining independence from France in 1953.
“The writing will encourage our people and youth to understand and to continue the job to keep our nation prosperous and independent,” Siphan said.
He said he did not know when the series would be shot or be finished, or where the funding was coming from, but he had already seen scholars collecting historical research to be used to inform the production.
“This will be a lesson for the next generation of youth, to strengthen the spirit of successors,” he said.
Social analyst Seng Sary said Hun Sen wanted to show his rise as a heroic story.
“The prime minister has remarked that history is written by the victor,” Sary said. “To produce the drama ‘The Son Under the Full Moon’ is … to show the next generation his hero [story]: The farmer’s son struggling to become the longest-serving prime minister in the world. And this dramatic production will be the history of the winner.”
But the endeavor was a little quaint, he added.
“Usually the stories of successful leaders should be recorded by other historians, not by themselves,” Sary said. “Our society seems backward in recording its history.”