Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Military Police put on alert



Military Police put on alert

Military police stand in formation to listen to speeches from their leaders in Phnom Penh on Wednesday. On Monday, Deputy Commander Vong Pisen told forces to be on high alert.
Military police stand in formation to listen to speeches from their leaders in Phnom Penh on Wednesday. On Monday, Deputy Commander Vong Pisen told forces to be on high alert. Cam Post

Military Police put on alert

The National Military Police have been put on alert and are ready to intervene to defend the legal government and prevent any attempts at a “colour revolution” in the country – or such was the message coming from the force’s Deputy Commander Vong Pisen a day after the surprise arrest of opposition leader Kem Sokha on Sunday.

The Cambodia National Rescue Party president was arrested around midnight on Sunday, and has since been charged with “treason” and placed in pre-trial detention in a Tbong Khmum province prison, for saying in a 2013 video that he had received assistance from the United States to plan his political career.

The next day, Pisen ordered personnel in Phnom Penh and the provinces to be on alert and await any order from higher ups to deploy their “forces”, “trucks and armoured vehicles” for a crackdown.

“All Military Police units must respect and adhere firmly to the government’s orders, the Ministry of Defence, Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and National Military Police Commander to protect the legal government and be determined to prevent the colour revolution from happening in Cambodia,” he said in Phnom Penh.

Colour revolution has become a buzzword among government and military officials, and refers to the largely peaceful citizen movements that have toppled regimes in the former Soviet Bloc and Middle East. In recent days, the term has picked up greater currency, with conspiracy theories about a US-backed colour revolution swirling on government-aligned media ahead of Sokha’s arrest.

Pisen asked his officials to control the information flow about Sokha’s arrest by offering “education” to lower officers and staffers about US involvement in the Lon Nol-led coup in 1970, and to help them identify the “tricks of the enemy” attempting a colour revolution.

The diktat also follows a stream of violent rhetoric employed prior to and following the commune elections in June. Before the poll, Defence Minister Tea Banh vowed to “smash the teeth” of protesters who disputed the election results, and Prime Minister Hun Sen told his opponents to “prepare their coffins” because he was ready to kill hundreds to maintain stability.

The Military Police has also had a chequered record for its involvement in violent crackdowns, including the violent dispersal of opposition supporters and garment workers during demonstrations following the 2013 election, as well as its suppression of an alleged “secessionist” movement lead by independent radio station owner Mam Sonando in Kratie province.

Military Police spokesman Eng Hy would only say that Pisen was reiterating the Military Police’s “obligations”, and refused to answer whether the remarks were a direct threat aimed at the CNRP. “The Military Police will follow the Military Police’s role,” he said.

CNRP lawmaker Cheam Channy said the Military Police were only following the country’s current political narrative, but refused to comment further on the issue.

However, political commentator Meas Ny said that in light of increased support for the CNRP in the June commune elections – in which it took an unprecedented 489 communes – the government wouldn’t hesitate to use the armed forces to quell any “uprising” or “rebellion”.

“Second, if this uprising becomes severe, the government has the right to declare an emergency in the country and it will affect the elections. It might be like the military regime in Thailand,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • Cambodia to make auto-rickshaws

    Locally-assembled electric auto-rickshaws could hit the Cambodian market as soon as early in May after the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) gave the greenlight to an investment project at the weekend. According to a CDC press release, it will issue a final registration