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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Encryption aid deal inked

Deputy National Police chief Kirth Chantharith (centre) speaks at a press conference in Phnom Penh in 2014. Chantharith, earlier this week, signed a cooperation plan on encryption training with Vietnam.
Deputy National Police chief Kirth Chantharith (centre) speaks at a press conference in Phnom Penh in 2014. Chantharith, earlier this week, signed a cooperation plan on encryption training with Vietnam. Pha Lina

Encryption aid deal inked

Vietnam inked a deal with Cambodia on Friday to provide more than half a million dollars’ worth of training in encryption coding, prompting some to question the wisdom of accepting foreign help to protect state secrets.

Under the agreement, signed by deputy National Police chief Kirth Chantharith and Dang Wosuen, director of Vietnam’s encryption code committee, Vietnam will accept 30 Cambodian police officers for one year of training.

The deal stipulated that $550,000 would be granted for building two training facilities in Kampong Speu, as well as $70,000 for machines and technical support.

According to the National Police Facebook page, 20 of those selected will be trained up to an intermediate level, while 10 will learn advanced skills.

Ouk Sarot, director of the National Police’s cryptography department, said the deal would allow encrypted messages to be communicated between state institutions and maintained they would be protected from Vietnam.

“[There are] laws protecting state secrets. For example, it cannot be leaked and the enemy cannot know about the strategy and plan,” he said.

Cambodia National Rescue Party leader Sam Rainsy, however, slammed the deal.

“This new agreement shows Cambodia’s dependence on, and subservience to, Vietnam, especially in the field of intelligence that is extremely important and sensitive for our country’s security and independence,” he said.

Political analyst Ou Virak, meanwhile, said that while it was not uncommon for Cambodians to be trained abroad for technical skills, this deal with Vietnam could be a double-edged sword. “If [information] is leaked, it can stab us.”

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