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PM Hun Sen chastises RCAF for unprofessionalism

PM Hun Sen chastises RCAF for unprofessionalism

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Prime Minister Hun Sen during a speech in Phnom Penh. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday blasted unnamed senior military officers for breaking RCAF regulations and urged the Ministry of Defence to improve both its training and its level  of professionalism.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Chinese-Cambodian Friendship Infantry Institution — a new facility at Kampong Speu’s Combined Arms Officer School Thlok Tasek — the premier said there were reports that unqualified officers had bribed their way to higher ranks.

“What we are interested in at the moment is irregularities in the promotion of military officers that were not conducted in a good manner,” he told the gathering of about 1,000 newly graduated soldiers.

The soldiers returned recently from a Chinese military academy. At the new facility in Phnom Sruoch district, young soldiers will receive quality training from Chinese advisers to improve their knowledge and skill so  they can replace retiring officers.

Calling for stricter regulation and enforcement of laws already in place, the premier also suggested the Defence Ministry “conduct a study into the establishment of sub-decrees and Prakases about the training of RCAF to keep them in order and effective.”

“Some senior military officials have not respected the law on the statute of RCAF and general procedure,” Hun Sen said.

His suggestion was given concurrent to a National Assembly debate that took place yesterday over a long-dormant draft law to create an oversight body called the Supreme Council of National Defence.

The council would be given the right to monitor the military and take disciplinary action against officers.

It would also be responsible, more generally, for safeguarding the nation’s territorial integrity and would have the power to evaluate whether to declare a state of emergency.

In the law that passed yesterday – with 85 of 97 lawmakers present voting in its favour – King Norodom Sihamoni would serve as head and Hun Sen as deputy president.

The members of the council – enshrined in the constitution two decades ago – are the minister of Defence, minister of Interior, head of the Council of Ministers, minister of Foreign Affairs, Finance minister, and general-commander of RCAF.

That composition drew the ire of opposition lawmakers, who said during yesterday’s debate they were concerned over the heavy presence of the ruling party on the council.

“We think that the members and deputy president would all be from the CPP, therefore it would not guarantee for the neutrality,” said lawmaker and Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann. “I would request for amendment of the composition and will provide to the power for the King to elect the members.”

Such criticisms, however, did little to sway the vote.

Minister of Interior Sar Kheng, who is also a lawmaker and would be among the members once the law goes into affect, defended the structure during the five-hour debate.

“The law did not name the members, just the title, therefore if another political party comes to take the power in the government, they would sit in this composition,” he argued.

To contact the reporter on this story: Vong Sokheng at [email protected]