The prime minister’s eldest son, Hun Manet, is crisscrossing the country handing out promotions to long-serving soldiers.
Manet, a lieutenant general and head of the Defence Ministry’s anti-terrorism unit, has visited troops in Stung Treng, Kampong Speu, Preah Vihear and Siem Reap provinces and pledged that personnel who have served since or before 1979 would advance in rank, according to his Facebook account.
On Tuesday, he spoke to troops at Brigade 70 headquarters in Phnom Penh, where, according to local outlet Fresh News, he said the promotions would be staggered. “We cannot promote 700 generals at one time, so this is the first stage,” he was quoted as saying.
“Why do we increase the rank of soldiers who have served in the army since before 1979? Because we want to acknowledge 1979 was a historical year and was the difficult time of liberating the country from the genocidal regime.”
January 7, 1979, is the date contingents of Cambodian troops, backed by the Vietnamese military, toppled the Khmer Rouge regime.
Reached yesterday, Defence Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat said the policy would see long-serving soldiers overlooked for promotion in the past reviewed and advanced.
Jon Grevatt, Asia-Pacific industry reporter for defence analyst IHS Janes, said, as in the past, the promotions appeared designed to shore up support for the prime minister within the military, thought to have more than 2,000 generals.
“It is part of a strategy going on for many years,” he said.