Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘Thousands of tonnes’ of weapons imported: PM

‘Thousands of tonnes’ of weapons imported: PM

A new military vehicle is taken through its paces during the first Chinese-Cambodian Golden Dragon military exercises in 2016. Hun Sen yesterday announced a new shipment of military material to coincide with this year’s exercises.
A new military vehicle is taken through its paces during the first Chinese-Cambodian Golden Dragon military exercises in 2016. Hun Sen yesterday announced a new shipment of military material to coincide with this year’s exercises. Heng Chivoan

‘Thousands of tonnes’ of weapons imported: PM

Prime Minister Hun Sen bragged yesterday about importing “thousands or tens of thousands” of tonnes of weaponry overnight in the run-up to a major joint military exercise with China.

“Samdech Tea Banh, the minister of defence, he does not transport flowers,” the premier said to an audience of nearly 18,000 factory workers in Kampong Speu province. “He transports bullets and guns.”

The prime minister later said the trucks contained “huge ordnance” but did not specify what they were for.

However, ministry spokesman Chum Socheat confirmed the equipment is for the so-called Golden Dragon military exercises in mid-March. Nearly 300 Cambodian troops are expected to attend the exercises, first conducted in 2016, alongside several hundred Chinese soldiers.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said he did not have information about the weapons, but said countries have the right to possess “enough ammunition to protect our sovereignty as well as our territory”.

Paul Chambers, a lecturer at Naresuan University in Thailand, said Hun Sen’s bravado was unsurprising as he seeks to build a “militarised sense . . . of ultra-nationalism” in the run-up to the national elections.

“Such a policy is simply going to increase Cambodia’s isolation and dependence upon China while Hun Sen increasingly rules with an iron hand,” Chambers said in an email.

The premier’s remarks came as the government quietly disclosed it diverted $4.5 million from the surplus budget to the Ministry of Interior in December to purchase nine types of “riot equipment”.

The sub-decree, signed by Hun Sen, did not specify what the types of equipment were. When reached yesterday, Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak directed questions to National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith, who said he was busy and hung up.

San Chey, country director of the good governance NGO Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said the money would have been better allocated to combating illegal gambling, theft and drug addiction.

“I don’t think demonstrations will be happening again in Cambodia while the opposition is dissolved,” Chey said, referring to the forced dissolution of the ruling party’s only legitimate competitor, the Cambodia National Rescue Party.

According to Phnom Penh City Hall, there were more than 1,700 protests, strikes and demonstrations last year – a slight increase from 2016 – although previous municipal statistics have shown discrepancies with national numbers.

Political analyst Meas Nee said the purchase of riot gear suggested the government is nervous about the upcoming elections. “After weakening the opposition party, it seems that they did not gain a huge benefit because support for the CNRP has not budged,” Nee said. “Therefore the government must be worried that there could be a problem during the election.”


  • Kak Channthy, Cambodian Space Project frontwoman, killed in crash at 38 [Updated]

    Updated 5:05pm, Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Kak Channthy, frontwoman of popular The Cambodian Space Project, was killed Tuesday morning in a traffic accident in Phnom Penh. She was 38. Channthy, the internationally recognised singer-songwriter also known as “Srey Thy”, was reportedly travelling in a tuk-tuk on the city's

  • Australians protest Asean summit visit by PM Hun Sen

    Hundreds of protesters gathered in Sydney’s Hyde Park on Friday to protest against Cambodian strongman Hun Sen, who claimed to have been gifted millions of dollars by the Australian government ahead of a special Asean summit this weekend. An estimated 300 protesters, the majority of

  • One Australian, one Cambodian killed in explosion at military base

    Updated: 5:20pm, Friday 16 March 2018 An Australian tourist and a Cambodian soldier were killed in an explosion on Thursday afternoon at an army base in Cambodia’s Kampong Speu province. The Australian, whom the government initially identified as a technical demining expert in his 40s, and

  • Peeling back layers of prehistory in Battambang

    When the man passed away, he had not yet reached 50. He belonged to a tribe that had settled near the Sangker River in Battambang province, likely cultivating the fields and raising animals. On the side, they hunted for boars, and even turtles, one of which