Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘All’ Preah Vihear tanks recalled to Phnom Penh area

‘All’ Preah Vihear tanks recalled to Phnom Penh area

A tank is transported on a military truck along Hanoi Road in the capital on Sunday evening.
A tank is transported on a military truck along Hanoi Road in the capital on Sunday evening. Niem Chheng

‘All’ Preah Vihear tanks recalled to Phnom Penh area

All tanks deployed to the Thai border in Preah Vihear have been ordered to return for repairs at bases around and near Phnom Penh, according to Defence Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat.

“I don’t know where they went to in Phnom Penh, but they have orders to go for maintenance; all of the tanks on the front line,” Socheat said, adding they were destined for bases surrounding Phnom Penh and in Kampong Speu to the capital’s southwest.

Socheat denied the movements, which have been widely followed on social media, were in response to recent political developments. “People should be happy that they’re leaving the battlefield; it shows our country is in harmony,” he said. “Don’t worry about it.”

Nonetheless, the sight of tanks passing through the capital has caused a stir among residents. “We were shocked to see tanks moved into Phnom Penh and we don’t know why,” motodop Sam Oeun said yesterday.

“We’re confused as to why they brought tanks at the same time that the political situation is getting tense. One of my friends is a soldier in Preah Vihear and asked whether there was some kind of chaos in Phnom Penh with the tanks being brought back.”

Socheat previously said the tanks were being withdrawn from the Thai border in Preah Vihear in response to the de-escalation of tensions with Cambodia’s neighbour.

He also confirmed on Sunday that some troops were also being recalled from the border, among them members of the prime minister’s Bodyguard Unit.

National security analyst Long Kim Khorn said the troop movements could be strategic.

“Maybe the government is concerned with national security so they moved the tanks so they can have military equipment on hand to protect the city or respond to demonstrations,” Kim Khorn said, referencing upcoming voter registration for next year’s commune elections and the anticipated release of the results of the official investigation into Kem Ley’s murder.

Regional analyst Carl Thayer said in an email yesterday that there was a precedent for the recalling of troops and hardware to the capital in times of tension.

“There were roughly similar displays of military force following the outbreak of civil unrest after the 2013 Cambodian national elections,” Thayer wrote. “This sort of military display was a staple for military dictatorships in Thailand that either threatened to conduct a coup or put on a show of force to prevent a coup.”

Naly Pilorge, deputy director of advocacy at rights group Licadho, yesterday called on the government to explain why “a significant number of military tanks, soldiers and weaponry are being brought to Phnom Penh since last Monday”.


  • Kak Channthy, Cambodian Space Project frontwoman, killed in crash at 38 [Updated]

    Updated 5:05pm, Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Kak Channthy, frontwoman of popular The Cambodian Space Project, was killed Tuesday morning in a traffic accident in Phnom Penh. She was 38. Channthy, the internationally recognised singer-songwriter also known as “Srey Thy”, was reportedly travelling in a tuk-tuk on the city's

  • Australians protest Asean summit visit by PM Hun Sen

    Hundreds of protesters gathered in Sydney’s Hyde Park on Friday to protest against Cambodian strongman Hun Sen, who claimed to have been gifted millions of dollars by the Australian government ahead of a special Asean summit this weekend. An estimated 300 protesters, the majority of

  • One Australian, one Cambodian killed in explosion at military base

    Updated: 5:20pm, Friday 16 March 2018 An Australian tourist and a Cambodian soldier were killed in an explosion on Thursday afternoon at an army base in Cambodia’s Kampong Speu province. The Australian, whom the government initially identified as a technical demining expert in his 40s, and

  • Peeling back layers of prehistory in Battambang

    When the man passed away, he had not yet reached 50. He belonged to a tribe that had settled near the Sangker River in Battambang province, likely cultivating the fields and raising animals. On the side, they hunted for boars, and even turtles, one of which