A total of 81 officers were promoted into the already-teeming leadership of the National Police yesterday, with some reaching the rank of three-star general, a senior official presiding over the ceremony at the Ministry of Interior in Phnom Penh said.
Em Sam An, a secretary of state at the ministry, also announced at the same ceremony that top police officials Mok Chito, Touch Naruth, Him Yam and Chhuong Senghak would become deputy commissioners of the National Police.
Leaving out those officials, the promotions made 10 senior police officers lieutenant generals (three stars); 30, major generals (two stars); and 41 brigadier generals (one star).
Both the top officials and the 81 officers were given their new titles in a separate sub-decree and royal decree, respectively, but the decisions were made public in yesterday’s ceremony.
Sam An, who presided over the ceremony, said the positions and ranks were given within the framework of a merit system for each officer who worked hard and whose work was recognised by the government.
Those officers, he said, must continue to successfully serve the people, halt “irregularities” in society and push for national development.
“[We] must add more leaders to the deputy commissioner position to have more power and more effectiveness. We are the doers,” he said.
In an apparent reference to the opposition party’s boycott of parliament at the end of 2013 until July of 2014, Sam An said that while mass demonstrations are no longer an everyday occurrence, Cambodia faces numerous ills that cannot be ignored, including robbery, theft and even online gambling.
“Before, they [used to] play simple [games], but now online lottery and gambling are so rife everywhere that it affects security of the people,” he said. “The danger is that betting on the lottery is dreaming.”
He also cited the possibility of terrorism spreading to Cambodia, and urged officers to be on alert.
“This is a hot issue, so our officers must improve our ability to catch the movement or situation,” he said.
Cambodian civil society has long lambasted the government for its speedy mass promotions, many of which aren’t warranted, critics say.
Ny Chakrya, head of the Human Rights Monitoring Section for rights group Adhoc, said he was surprised by the promotions of officers, calling for the government to think deeply before elevating its personnel or else risk encouraging them to violate human rights.
“Do not take cracking down on demonstrations as an achievement worthy of promotion,” he said. “It is an achievement of a human rights violation.… It can [become] a culture of encouraging human rights violations.”