Zodiac superstition leads Cambodia leader to change date of birth

Kyodo News

Posted at May 17 2022 04:06 PM

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks during the inauguration ceremony for a bridge in the outskirt of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, March 31, 2022. Kith Serey, EPA-EFE
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks during the inauguration ceremony for a bridge in the outskirt of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, March 31, 2022. Kith Serey, EPA-EFE

PHNOM PENH — Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Tuesday that he has decided to shift his official date of birth to the day he was actually born, despite having used the wrong day for a few decades.

Hun Sen said he made the decision following the death of his elder brother on May 5, which he suspects might be in some way related to his sibling also having an incorrect date of birth that caused a conflict with the Chinese zodiac calendar.

It is common for Cambodians who are 50 years of age or older to have 2 birthdays as many lost their official birth certificates during the years of the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1979. Also, many people assumed false birth dates to avoid being conscripted to the military during fighting against the Khmer Rouge in the 1980s.

Hun Sen said he had 2 dates of birth, one on April 4, 1951, and the other on Aug. 5, 1952, the latter of which he says is correct. He says an administrative error was to blame for him using an incorrect date of birth.

Hun Sen said his brother died of a heart attack 10 days after returning from Singapore where he received medical treatment.

The premier said the zodiac is something that "should not be ignored," citing his elder brother's also incorrect date of birth that shifted him from being born in a year of the cow to a year of the tiger.

Hun Sen acknowledged the complications changing his date of birth would bring, with both domestic legal and diplomatic issues to be worked through.

Hun Sen became prime minister on Jan. 14, 1985, and is now considered the world's longest-serving prime minister.

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