Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Oknhas told to choose between army and title

Oknhas told to choose between army and title

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Hun Sen took to Facebook on Friday, saying armed forces personnel are banned from having the honorific title of oknha. HUN SEN’s FACEBOOK PAGE

Oknhas told to choose between army and title

The ministries of National Defence and Interior have ordered members of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) with the honorific title “oknha” to choose between serving in the military and keeping their title, the ministries’ spokespersons said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered the move while speaking at the Central Committee meeting of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) on Thursday at the capital’s Koh Pich Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Writing on his Facebook page on Friday, Hun Sen said: “All armed forces such as soldiers, police and military police personnel are banned from having the honorific title of oknha anymore. In the past, some of them have taken the role to run illegal rackets.”

Ministry of National Defence spokesman Chhum Socheat told The Post on Sunday that the ministry was investigating which personnel had the honorific title and will make them choose between being oknhas or serving in the armed forces.

“We are acting on the orders of Samdech Hun Sen. We have personnel with the honorific title of oknha. Samdech made the remarks and if no one had the titles, he wouldn’t have done so. Hence, we must follow the orders and we’re working on it now,” he said.

Minister of National Defence Tea Banh told The Post on Sunday that the prime minister’s orders were in line with armed forces reforms which seek to reduce the number of personnel who hold different positions. “In the future, there will be no officials who have the title oknha.

“Soldiers and police must have only one position. More than that is too much, as it becomes difficult to carry out their duties. This reform serves to restore order,” he said.

RCAF General Command spokesman Thong Solimo said the unit would investigate which personnel had the title of oknha. But he said there were not many.

“They must drop one as Samdech [Hun Sen] remarked. They will have to choose the title of oknha or a position in the armed forces,” he said.

Neither Banh nor Socheat could provide a figure of how many oknha were serving at the ministry.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak said on Sunday that the ministry would work on the matter at the behest of the prime minister.

“We will instruct oknhas not to use the title anymore. We have four or five people. They have had the title lawfully bestowed on them and we cannot deny them that.

“But if you are an oknha, you cannot take the rank of general. If you are a general, you cannot take the title oknha,” he said.

Transparency International (Cambodia) senior programme director Pech Pisey welcomed Hun Sen’s directive, claiming that certain armed forces personnel with the honorific title had used their power to pressure people and seize their land.

“When public officials have the title oknha, it can create a conflict of interest. I support and welcome the measures because we can reduce conflicts of interest and illegal rackets,” he said.


  • School reopening to be postponed until November

    Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen requesting a delay of school reopening across the Kingdom until November, when the new academic year begins. In his letter, Chuon Naron said the postponement is warranted to avoid the new

  • Foreigners in Kingdom must now register in FPCS system

    The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration (GDI) announced that it would not grant visa extensions to foreigners staying in Cambodia if their names are not listed on the Foreigners Present in Cambodia System (FPCS) by July 1. Foreign nationals can register in the

  • Covid-19 at ‘alarming rate’, health ministry says

    The Covid-19 risk level for individual transmission is at an “alarming rate” in the Kingdom and its probability is “not low”, warned Health Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine. “Cambodia’s coronavirus scenario is classified as being at an early stage of the pandemic because of ongoing

  • Mandatory quarantine for 30,000 workers begins

    Some of the roughly 30,000 workers from factories and enterprises across the Kingdom who went on leave during Khmer New Year began their government-imposed 14-day quarantine on Monday. Speaking at a press conference while visiting workers at the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on Monday, Ministry

  • Unemployed to get $40 per month

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has instructed enterprises, business owners and travel agencies in five provinces to prepare the proper forms for the suspension of employment contracts. This, it said, will make it easier for the ministry to transfer $40 a month to workers

  • Gov’t travel ban flouted

    While the majority of Cambodians have paid heed to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s order to stay put and not travel during the Khmer New Year – the holidays of which were also postponed – several hundred have left Phnom Penh nonetheless. They have allegedly breached provincial

  • G20 energy ministers struggle to finalise oil output cuts

    Top oil producers struggled to finalise production cuts during a virtual summit held by Group of 20 (G20) energy ministers on Friday, despite US President Donald Trump’s mediation efforts to end a standoff with Mexico. The final G20 communique appeared to gloss over simmering divisions

  • Kingdom revises travel restriction order

    The government on Friday eased the district and provincial border restrictions issued on Thursday. People are now allowed to cross districts within their provinces. Phnom Penh and Kandal province are to be treated as a single region where people are allowed to travel freely. In

  • Private schools struggling

    The Cambodian Higher Education Association has claimed that 113 private educational establishments are facing bankruptcy because of their inability to pay rent and staff salaries in light of nationwide school closures caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. It said the financial trouble started when the Ministry of

  • Khmer New Year holidays postponed

    In an effort to halt Covid-19 infections in the Kingdom, Prime Minister Hun Sen has postponed the Khmer New Year holidays scheduled from April 13 to 16. While the people will not have their usual break, nor will there be any public celebrations or gatherings at pagodas,