Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Official talks up CPP in speech to soldiers

Official talks up CPP in speech to soldiers

General Neang Phat talks during a government press conference at the Phnom Penh International Airport in 2014.
General Neang Phat talks during a government press conference at the Phnom Penh International Airport in 2014. Heng Chivoan

Official talks up CPP in speech to soldiers

Cambodia’s military elite has again publicly thrown its support behind the government, while at the same time urging soldiers to repress any attempts by the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party to stage a “colour revolution”.

In a January 5 speech delivered to hundreds of soldiers at a military institute in Kampong Speu province, four-star General Neang Phat, who is also a secretary of state for the Ministry of Defence, praised at great length the leadership of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party for their stewardship through three decades of economic development.

“[The CPP] built infrastructure, built bridges, roads, schools and canals for the Cambodian people,” he said in a 35-minute video, which began circulating in social media over the weekend.

Phat then rattled off multiple instances of what he characterised as CNRP agitation – including the 2013 post-election stand-off and subsequent protests, and ongoing nationalist rhetoric pertaining to the Vietnamese border – as examples of the opposition seeking to foment “instability in society”.

The general also took aim at opposition leader Sam Rainsy for attempting to undermine what he said was a long list of achievements under CPP rule.

“Cambodia has made progress in developing; he prevents this by asking Europe not to help Cambodia,” Phat said, referring to a resolution passed by the European Parliament in November, which suggested that aid could be slashed if an arrest warrant for Rainsy, who is currently in self-imposed exile overseas, was not dropped.

“We need to realise that they destroy our nation and are the ones who create the colour revolution – we must go against them,” he said, before urging the military to “eliminate” such a revolt.

Named for a series of popular movements in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere, purported colour revolutions have been of particular concern to the government over the past year, with Prime Minister Hun Sen warning troops last July to be vigilant against such a movement, saying that the “armed forces must be loyal to the government”.

The premier’s comments were echoed a week later by Minister of Defence Tea Banh in an address to soldiers.

CNRP lawmaker Ou Chanrith, however, played down any notion of a brewing colour revolution yesterday.

“We support peaceful demonstrations; we want change through peaceful means,” he said.

The latest call by the military, he said, was one of many that demonstrated the body’s lack of neutrality. “[They] should [act] in the interest of the people, not the party.”

But CPP spokesman Sok Eysan insisted yesterday that Cambodia’s armed forces remained impartial in matters of party politics, though they do have an important role to play in defending the government of the day, he said.

“The army protects the government, which is born out of a legitimate election and that is normal, but the army is independent between parties,” he said.

However, Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, was more scathing in his assessment of the latest comments from the military’s upper echelon.

“This is more evidence of the CPP’s ever-deepening control of the armed forces and police, and the use of those forces to suppress the political opposition using false accusations of plotting some sort of undefined insurrection,” he said.

In exchange for their support of the ruling party, the military were guaranteed impunity for rights abuses against enemies of the CPP, he said.

“The RCAF functions as the hired guns of the ruling CPP and have benefited from gaining shares of power and ill-gotten wealth from PM Hun Sen’s corrupt rule.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,

  • Capital-Poipet express rail project making headway

    The preliminary results of a feasibility study to upgrade the Phnom Penh-Poipet railway into Cambodia’s first express railway indicate that the project would cost more than $4 billion and would take around four years to complete. The study was carried out by China Road and

  • Thai boxers to join SEA Games’ Kun Khmer event

    The Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) – together with the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) and Khmer Boxing Federation – have achieved a “great success” by including Kun Khmer in the upcoming biennial multi-sports event on its home soil for the first time, said a senior

  • Bullets to bracelets: Siem Reap man makes waste from war wearable

    Jewellery is often made from valuable gemstones like emeralds or diamonds and precious metals like gold or silver, or valueless things like animal horns. But a man in Siem Reap has approached the manufacture of delicate pieces from a different angle. His unique form of

  • 61% of 2022 imports came from just 3 markets

    The three largest exporters to Cambodia – mainland China, Vietnam and Thailand – accounted for 60.94 per cent of the Kingdom’s total merchandise imports last year, at $18.245 billion, which was up 11.99 per cent over 2021, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise. Cambodia’s total imports