Four generals – including the commanders of the Cambodian Navy and Air Force – have been promoted to deputy commanders-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, swelling the upper echelons of an already top-heavy military.
Acting Head of State Say Chhum promoted Navy Commander Tea Vinh, Air Force Commander Soeung Samnang, Artillery Director Nob Ratana and RCAF High Command Operations Director Vong Veasna in a royal decree signed Friday.
All four are members of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party’s Central Committee.
In a separate royal decree, also signed by Chhum and dated Friday, Veasna and Ratana were also promoted to four-star generals at the request of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan defended the promotions as “encouragement” for the officers.
“The promotions comply with each individual’s achievement to make them have a strong stance to fulfil their duty to the nation, country and people,” Eysan said.
Experts have criticised Cambodia’s generous military promotions and insiders have confessed that the bloated upper ranks mean that senior officials are sometimes compelled to remove stars when meeting with foreign counterparts who are typically of much lower rank.
Ex-CNRP lawmaker Cheam Channy, who worked on defence issues for the now-dissolved opposition party, criticised the appointments as part of Hun Sen’s strategy to consolidate his power, comparing the military’s top-heavy upper ranks to bloated bureaucracies in many provinces.
“There are many people but only a little work,” he said. “It is a waste of money.”