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

  • Seven positive for Covid-19, Hun Sen confirms local transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that there has been local community transmission of Covid-19. However, he urged the people not to panic even though the Ministry of Health announced the discovery of seven new cases on Sunday. Among the victims are Chhem Savuth, the director-general

  • Cambodia at ‘most critical moment’, Hun Sen warns

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the first community transmission of Covid-19 in Cambodia has led the country to the “most critical moment” that warranted urgent, large-scale operations to contain the pandemic. Hun Sen, who confirmed the first local transmission on November 28, said the source of

  • PM confirms community transmission, calls for unity

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the public to stay calm, unite and follow the Ministry of Health guidelines after the wife of a senior official tested positive for Covid-19 in the Kingdom’s first case of community transmission. The case has drawn criticism

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • PM vows to protect Hun family

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family. Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there