Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - RCAF head calls for readiness

RCAF head calls for readiness

RCAF Commander-in-Chief Pol Saroeun (centre) chairs a meeting with army officials on Tuesday.
RCAF Commander-in-Chief Pol Saroeun (centre) chairs a meeting with army officials on Tuesday. Facebook

RCAF head calls for readiness

In the midst of an ongoing crackdown on the opposition, armed forces Commander-in-Chief and ruling party standing committee member Pol Saroeun has called on all commanders to crack down on extremist elements before next year’s national elections and to continue the “fight in the war of ideologies”.

The Royal Cambodian Armed Forces leader’s comments are in line with those from other senior government and military officials, who have repeatedly called on their subordinates to stamp out purported attempts to overthrow the Cambodian People’s Party-led government.

The statements come during one of the tensest political chapters in recent memory, with opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party President Kem Sokha jailed on widely decried charges of “treason”, and other members of the party under investigation for being “spies” in his alleged plot to topple the government.

At a meeting to discuss RCAF’s nine-month report, Saroeun on Tuesday said his commanders needed to keep their forces on alert to prevent “ill-intended people” from causing “chaos”.

“[We] must increase precaution in strongly preventing extremism or any actions that bring chaos in society that causes the destruction of peace,” General Saroeun said in a post to his Facebook page summarising his remarks.

He added that soldiers must be trained in fighting alternative narratives being published on Facebook – a stance that recalls the Ministry of Interior’s recent training of provincial officials and members of the media on how to portray the legitimacy of the CPP’s actions against the CNRP.

Authorities detain mock “protesters” at gunpoint during a recent training session in Kampong Speu province. Security officials have yet again vowed to crack down on demonstrations amid the tensest political situation in years.
Authorities detain mock “protesters” at gunpoint during a recent training session in Kampong Speu province. Security officials have yet again vowed to crack down on demonstrations amid the tensest political situation in years. National Police

Defence Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat could not be reached for comment on the remarks.

Yesterday, meanwhile, Sar Thet, deputy National Police chief and nephew of Interior Minister Sar Kheng, told authorities in Kampong Speu that persons looking to incite the destruction of peace must be smashed, pointing particularly to demonstrations. His comments came after a police training exercise on anti-demonstration tactics.

“Armed forces must have the capability to respond to incidents that take place, and the training forces must help to prevent any illegal protests and demonstrations,” he said.

Photos of the training showed, among other things, heavily armed authorities arresting mock protesters at gunpoint.

The latest remarks follow months of similar statements made by Defence Minister Tea Bahn – who promised to “smash the teeth” of opposition protesters – and Prime Minister Hun Sen, who said there would be 100 or 200 bodies in the streets if attempts were made to change the government. Both comments were made in the run-up to June’s commune elections.

The UN Special Rapporteur Rhona Smith, foreign embassies and election monitors said at the time the intimidating rhetoric made it difficult to call the otherwise smooth commune elections truly “free and fair”.

“I remain concerned at the atmosphere of intimidation and threats of violence, including by high-level officials, in the lead-up to the election and in the weeks which have followed,” Smith said during a visit to the Kingdom in August.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM to vet NY holiday dates

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance submitted a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen asking him to formally set a five-day national holiday from August 17-21 to make up for the Khmer New Year holiday in April that was postponed. Finance minister Aun Pornmoniroth sent

  • Cambodia rejects UN rights claim

    Cambodia's Permanent Mission to the UN Office in Geneva on Friday hit back at David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression after he raised concerns over the repression of free speech and

  • Snaring may spawn diseases

    The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has warned that snaring of animals has become a crisis that poses a serious risk to wildlife in Southeast Asia and could spawn the transmission of zoonotic diseases to humans. Its July 9 report entitled Silence of the Snares: Southeast Asia’

  • Ex-party leader, gov’t critic named as secretary of state

    A former political party leader known for being critical of the government has been appointed secretary of state at the Ministry of Rural Development, a royal decree dated July 9 said. Sourn Serey Ratha, the former president of the Khmer Power Party (KPP), told The Post

  • Residence cards set for over 80,000 immigrants

    The Ministry of Interior plans to grant residence cards to more than 80,000 immigrants to better keep track of them. The ministry announced the plan on July 10, following the results of an immigration census. “An inter-ministerial committee and many operational working groups have been set up

  • Kingdom produces PPE gear

    Medical supplies from Cambodia have been donated to member countries of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to assist in the fight against Covid-19, said an ADB report published on July 9. The report stated that the supplies were donated as a response to global efforts to

  • Kingdom, US vow stronger ties

    At an academic forum on Saturday to celebrate 70 years of Cambodia-US diplomatic ties, Cambodian researchers and officials expressed hope of encouraging US investments and for that country to deepen and improve its bilateral relations. Held at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, it reviewed the past 70

  • Fifteen Cambodians from Saudi get Covid-19

    The Ministry of Health on Sunday confirmed 15 more imported cases of Covid. The 15 men ‒ all Cambodian aged 21 to 33 ‒ arrived from Saudi Arabia on Friday via a connecting flight in Malaysia. They were travelling with 79 other passengers, three of them women. The ministry said 80 of the

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea