Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday dismissed the idea of creating a new “ministry of national security” by separating the National Police from the Ministry of Interior as the ministry was not an institution “without influence”.
Hun Sen’s comments came as he presided over the graduation ceremony of more than 1,400 cadets at the Police Academy of Cambodia in Kandal province’s Kien Svay district.
The prime minister told those who attended that between 1998 and 2006, the establishment of a ministry of national security or ministry of national police had been recommended to him but he had rejected the idea.
“It would be more disorderly if we were to create a ‘ministry of national security’. The Ministry of Interior could not protect security if it can only speak to provincial authorities and other institutions without having any influence.
“One thing I should say now . . . the country’s future leaders should keep the structure of the Ministry of Interior as it is, with the National Police under its authority.
“After having gained much experience, I think things would be more disorderly if we were to separate them. So don’t plan to have a Ministry of National Police separate from the Ministry of Interior,” the prime minister said.
He also urged the graduates and police officers present at the event to do their utmost in protecting security and peace.
“Do whatever is necessary to protect Cambodia from becoming a shelter for terrorists, even if the Kingdom is not their target. Don’t allow the country to become their base or a point of transit.
“Don’t allow Cambodia to become a place for the laundering of money. Drugs and gun smuggling and money laundering go hand in hand,” he said, adding that police should address such issues before they become problematic.
He said the Cambodian economy would continue to grow at around seven per cent as predicted by the Asian Development Bank. “However, this will not be possible if we have bad governance,” he stressed.
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said it was right to have the National Police as an important department in the Ministry of Interior.
However, what should be done, he said, was to transfer the Military Police from the Ministry of National Defence to the Ministry of Interior as it served a similar law enforcement role to the National Police.
“Both forces should be under the same ministry and have the same codes of conduct,” he said.
San Chey, the executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, also agreed with Hun Sen in keeping the National Police under the Ministry of Interior.
He said the Ministry of Interior was responsible for both local government and keeping law and order, while the duties of a national police ministry, if created, would overlap with other ministries.
“I don’t think it is necessary to form a ministry of national security. The structure of the National Police is consistent with the duties of civil administration. What is necessary is improving the existing mechanisms so they complement each other,” he said.
It was important to improve communication between the civil administration and the security forces to provide better public service and improve people’s trust in the police, he said.