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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Malaysia mulls arms request

Malaysia mulls arms request

T HE Malaysian Ambassador to Cambodia talked to the Post about his government's

position on military aid to Cambodia.

Ambassador Deva Mohd. Ridzam was

asked about a military equipment request prepared by the Cambodian Defense

Ministry which had been obtained by the Post.

He said: "The Cambodian

government sent around a shopping list of military items of equipment that it

wants to X number of nations. Whether we will be able to respond to it is still

undecided.

"But we believe that grassroots economic development in the

country as a whole should be emphasized. Here we are quite prepared to

help.

"For example Malaysia has extended technical cooperation to

Cambodia. This we will continue to augment. We have sent 20 odd people along

with 35 irrigation pumps and engines to Cambodia.

"We are encouraging

Cambodian delegations to come to Malaysia to look at rural development projects,

environmental projects, agriculture, the working of the police. We request the

Cambodian government not to say 'We need this, we need that,' but to come to

Malaysia to see how we accomplish these kinds of tasks.

"We are prepared

to receive delegations from the Royal Government that have the support of the

Co-Prime Ministers to come to Malaysia for study tours, on fact-finding

missions."

The Ambassador denied having any knowledge of rumors that the

Malaysian government is prepared to train units of between 200-700 Cambodian

soldiers in Malaysia in anti-guerrilla warfare techniques.

 

"We will not accept any soldiers in numbers like that. It is out of the

question [for Malaysia] to train soldiers. We do not want to get into any form

of military cooperation that will lead to a new cycle of fighting.

"We

would however like to show Cambodians how we run our military training schools,

how we recruit people for the military, how our army is involved in civil action

programs, how they help to build bridges and clear land.

"But this is

best done in Malaysia. We would like to see delegations visiting Malaysia to see

how our Army organizes to do this."

Ambassador Ridzam told the Post the

Malaysian government is now helping in the area of civil aviation - a form of

cooperation that grew out of Malaysia's involvement in the Untac

mission.

He said: "We now have 11 Malaysians working as air traffic

controllers in Cambodia, Malaysian Air Force personnel who are accomplishing a

civilian task. They are here for a year, from Jan 1to Dec 31, at a cost of

$386,100."

Another Malaysian source said that Kuala Lumpur financed the

training of 10 Cambodian air traffic controllers in Bangkok. He said: "We are

also involved with the Department of Civil Aviation in conversion training for

Cambodian pilots to teach them to fly cargo planes. This is a four month

course.

"We are now committed to the preservation of the fruits of the UN

intervention in Cambodia: the results of the election, the return of the

monarchy and the establishment of a legitimate government.

"However,

there is no mood in Malaysia nor among the individual Asean nations to get into

any new round, any new cycle, of fighting in Cambodia.

"Asean would like

to see grassroots development in Cambodia. This is the regional post-Untac

view.

"We have told the Cambodian government our experience with the

Malaysian insurgency taught us that military force alone is not the answer [to

the KR problem].

"In Malaysia we won the war against the insurgency by

winning the hearts and minds of the people through education, rural development

and infrastructure improvement.

"All the diplomatic missions here wait

anxiously for the investment law. We feel that private sector investment will

create employment and increase human resources by increasing skills.

"There is only one way for Cambodia to go. They must integrate

regionally and in the world-wide community. Cambodia cannot remain

insulated."

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