In a surprising action that seems another setback for the struggling seeds of democracy in Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen signed a resolution on July 21 that creates an ‘’alliance’’ between the military and the civilian administration. VOA obtained a copy of the resolution on Thursday.
Government officials defended the plan for the military to work more closely with civilian officials as ‘’necessary,’’ but independent observers and the opposition said the initiative is a ‘’bad sign’’ and asserted that the government must reveal more about its intentions.
Among the specific alliances the documents calls for are:
1- Army field and Royal Railway of Cambodia.
2- Royal Military Police and Camsab Navigator Agency.
3- Navy field and Phnom Penh Autonomous Port.
4- Air Force field and the Department of Commerce's Control Center.
5- Brigade Number 70, the elite force for the defense of Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Department of Water Resource and Meteorology, and the Rubber Plantation and Chamkar Andoung.
6- Artillery field and the Ministry of Public Works and Transport .
7- Tank Force and Neak Leoung Port.
8- Message Center and Communication Unit of Cambodia.
9- Air Force Defense and Forestry Administration.
Minister of Information and government spokesman, Mr. Khiev Kanharith said that the alliances' goal is to promote better understanding between military and civilian fields and to consolidate both of them. He added that some of the ministries and departments can supply work to the military but he did not provide details.
The secretary general of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, Eng Chhay Eang, said he was ‘’very surprised’’ by this decision and did not know the goals of the alliances, noting the government had not yet disclosed the purpose. Eng Chhay Eang thought the action was to strengthen military clout, which was not positive. He also said that the national budget was spent recklessly on the military, with the armed forces spending more than their share, and that the prime minister’s office then ordered civilian ministries and departments to make funds available to the military. This is against the law, Eng Chhay Eang asserted, and he added that Hun Sen has the power to do whatever he wants, and that such actions are not for national benefit, but rather for individuals' gains.
Pung Chhiv Kek, the president of the local human rights organization Licadho, also said that she does not know what is the premier’s goal in setting up the new ‘’alliances’’ and she added that Hun Sen should ensure that civilian and military branches of government should protect the state’s ‘’rule of law.’’
Minister of Information and government spokesman, Khieu Kanharith, said that this kind of alliance already existed during the 1980s State of Kampuchea era, but it was dissolved after the national election took place when the United Nations Transitional Authority for Cambodia was in effect in 1993.