A high-ranking member of the Singaporean Army expressed his hopes that Singapore-Cambodia defence ties will be expanded.

General Mao Sophan, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Army, and Colonel Pang Lead Shuan, commanding officer of the 2nd Singapore Infantry Brigade, met on May 1 at Cambodian Army Headquarters in Phnom Penh.

Pang thanked the Cambodian Army for their warm welcome of his delegation.

“The relationship between our two countries – and our armies – not only exists in a multilateral forum, but a bilateral one. Many joint training sessions have been conducted to improve our close ties,” Pang was quoted as saying.

Sophan thanked the Singaporean Army for sending a team of specialists to assist the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) in crowd control and rescue techniques, ahead of the 32nd SEA Games and 12th ASEAN Para Games.

He noted that 2023 marks the 58th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries in 1965. The links were forged under the leadership of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and the founding father of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew.

Sophan added that in recent years, with the guidance of Prime Minister Hun Sen and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, relations and cooperation between the two countries has improved in all areas, including the defence sector.

“He thanked the Singapore Army for its support of their Cambodian counterparts. The support includes education, human resource training, delegation exchanges and the supply of specialised equipment,” he said.

Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said he hopes the two countries will increase their cooperation, based on historical aspects of mutual support, ASEAN multilateral cooperation and other geopolitical factors.

“Due to certain geopolitical factors, Cambodia and Singapore were not close in the past,” he explained.

“In my opinion as a political science researcher, there was real tension between the two in the past, but this has dissipated over the years. I look forward to improved relations. Close cooperation – in both defence and other fields – will make the ASEAN region stronger,” he added.