The Ministry of National Defence will send 25 military and police officials to Thailand to join a training exercise with their Thai counterparts, a ministry spokesman said on Tuesday.
Ministry of Defence spokesman Chhum Socheat said the plan to send 25 personnel to the joint exercise in Thailand was decided during last weekend’s visit by the Royal Thai Armed Forces chief, Tarnchaiyan Srisuwan, to Cambodia.
“We will send VIP security forces – those tasked with protecting important guests of the government.
“We used to join the exercise every year, but we stopped when we had problems with Thailand. The forces protect the leaders of the country, government and heads of state when they come to Cambodia,” he said.
In June 2008, a century-long border dispute around the Preah Vihear temple area flared up, resulting in multiple casualties.
Socheat said the ministry hopes the renewal of the joint exercise will improve ties between the two countries.
“This training will enhance relations and improve capabilities and professionalism in order to work properly and protect the leaders,” Socheat said, adding that the dates of the exercise had yet to be decided.
Meas Ny, an analyst and social development observer, said political situations in both countries have forced the two governments to depend on each other.
“Thailand has an unsolved problem and we also have political problems. So both governments have to help each other,” he said.
He was referring to Thailand being ruled by a military junta, seemingly reluctant to hand over the reins of power to a civilian government and international pressure on Phnom Penh due to an alleged political crackdown on government critics.
Giving an example of how relations improved each time a country came under international scrutiny, he said: “Thailand helped the Cambodian government to arrest a person who threw a shoe at a picture of Hun Sen and then fled to that country.”
He said the Cambodian government knows there are nearly a million Cambodian workers in Thailand and that there are also many opposition activists who hide out in that country after arrest warrants are issued against them.
At the same time, Thai opposition activists often came to Cambodia to discuss politics. “Thus, it is in the interest of both governments to maintain strong relations,” he said.