At the welcoming ceremony for the in-coming Co-minister Nhek Bun Chhay in place of former Co-minister HRH Sisovath Sirirath and the conferment of the four star general for HE Nhek Bun Chhay, Samdech Hun Sen made some comments which CNV is making a selected abridged version as follows:
… Today I have a great pleasure to participate in the welcoming and hand-over ceremony at the Ministry of National Defense after the swearing-in of the third-term Royal Government and the first session of the third legislature of the National Assembly. May I take this solemn opportunity to express my sincere thanks for HRH Sisovath Sirirath, HE Por Bun Sreu and various other Under-Secretaries of State prior to their departures from the Ministry of National Defense for their new tasks for the efforts they made especially in the past five years together with HE Tia Banh, HE Chay Saingyun and others in the leadership of the Ministry. They all have left uncountable achievements and progress for a new in-coming co-minister and a number of Secretaries of State.
… I wish to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to HE Nhek Bun Chhay for his active participation, when the health of Samdech Chea Sim was unfavourable, and especially in its finalization by the Senate of the draft of the constitutional supplement for the sake of a sustainable functioning of State institutions. The promotion of his rank to the four-star general today is a response to his efforts over the past years. In his position as a Deputy Prime Minister and Co-Minister of National Defense, I hope that HE will make further sound cooperation with HE Tia Banh who have served the Ministry in this position for twenty five years already.
… Please allow me also to express my sincere appreciation to all departments and units that directly dependent on the Ministry of National Defense (MND) and especially my warmest thanks to the Chief and Deputy Chiefs of staff of the three Royal Cambodian Armed Forces for the efforts they exerted to overcome all sorts of difficulties while the country is in short of resources. Their efforts have become a significant movement in support of the Royal Government’s implementation of reforms and economic growth. In recent development, we could list out contribution made by our armed forces in the socio-economic development as they all contributed in the construction of roads, bridges, etc. In time of flood, the armed forces have actively participated in the Royal Government’s rescue efforts of lives and properties of our people. I wish to add that the military police has also been active cooperation with the national police forces in the prevention of all sorts of crimes.
…I have a strong hope that MND and departments under its supervision, the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, and the national military police will continue their traditionally good action and will stay as the core of the implementation of the rectangular strategy which encompass the 73 points of political platform of the Royal Government. In Cambodia, it has been two terms already that we have co-ministers and I must say that there has been appreciative solidarity for which I hope that in this term HE Nhek Bun Chhay and HE Tia Banh will keep up the traditionally good cooperation like when HE Tia Chamrath and HRH Sisovath Sirirath did with HE Tia Banh.
… Let me now draw attention on a matter that I think MND in this term has to give its focus on. Our soldiers have turned to be over-aged and for that reason most of them could not perform their duties effectively. It is therefore an urgent need for MND to come up with a military compulsory law so that the nation could address this shortcoming. This is not a strange thing to do as Cambodia also had its law of military obligation in the past, take for example in the time of the Sangkum Reastr Niyum, the compulsory period was 18 months. Cambodia did not have its military compulsory law in between 1993 and 2004. So I would advice MND to come up with a draft of the military obligation so that we could refill our armed forces with younger soldiers.
… This is one face of reforms too. We have military academy from where senior military officers are trained for the task of commanding and managing the soldiers but what could they do if we do not have lower rank soldiers? As far as it is concerned with the rectangular strategy, reform in the field of national defense is very important. MND and the Cambodian Armed Forces have to play a significant role in the reform objectives of the Royal Government especially in the defense of the national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. As we have only four years to fulfill our task in this term I wish all of you to expedite and to exercise savings. In this term I personally think that we should have only four four-gold-star generals – two are the co-ministers of national defense and two are the chief and deputy chief of staff. Samdech Krom Preah, Samdech Chea Sim, Samdech Heng Samrin and myself have also been bestowed with the five-gold-star general but because we have inflation of ranks and for the sake of reform we all have brought ourselves down from five to four-gold-star general and each lower rank downwards.
… We are having some missiles and where are they now? We should think of whether to destroy them or not? For me I think we should destroy them all. I am worried they may be ending up in the hands of terrorists and we have about 60 pieces of them but I do not know how do we destroy them. We have to keep good care as their powder could be used by the terrorist to make bombs…/.