Defence Minister Tea Banh reshuffled the Military Police’s provincial leadership last week, with five provinces receiving new commanders, a statement obtained yesterday says, while a local media outlet also reported that a family member of the force’s national commander was appointed as one of his deputies.
The statement, dated Tuesday, says that new commanders were appointed for the provinces of Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Kampong Chhnang, Prey Veng and Mondulkiri, with many of the outgoing commanders replaced by one of their own deputies and others by officials in Phnom Penh.
Chhuon Kimsan and Born Bin, previously the deputy commanders for Prey Veng and Banteay Meanchey, were promoted to their provinces’ top jobs, replacing Men Saborn and Or Borin, who have each become Military Police deputy chiefs of staff.
Hem Bonnarel, who is head of the Bureau of Security at the National Military Police, was appointed Mondulkiri provincial commander, while the province’s former commander, Sak Saraing, will have the same role in Kampong Chhnang.
Saraing, in turn, replaced Kampong Chhnang Commander Meas Sovann, who has moved to Battambang. The statement does not say what position Battambang’s former commander, Por Vannak, will take up, but a local media outlet reported he would become a deputy commander of the National Military Police.
The outlet, Deum Tnot, also reported that Vannak was an “in-law” of long-serving National Military Police Commander Sao Sokha. Reached by telephone, Defence Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat declined to confirm or deny the relationship.
“We cannot talk about it,” Socheat said. “The most important thing is that it depends on his work, and these promotions are not related to his connections, and were organised through the hierarchy.”
“It is not only Sao Sokha alone who has the right to decide, but also the Ministry of Defence,” the spokesman added.
Socheat also denied the reshuffle was linked to the national election scheduled for July. Military Police have played large roles in security after elections, with many officers having been called from their provincial bases to Phnom Penh for months at a time during the protests following the disputed July 2013 national election.
Saraing said he went where he was told. “It’s OK. I can go anywhere, and it is up to the leader’s order. Every province is the same . . . and we work hard,” he said.