Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday announced a recent million-dollar purchase of arms and equipment from China, noting that Cambodia is aiming to modernise its armed forces.
Mr Hun Sen made the announcement while inspecting construction of the Morodok Techo National Stadium in Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changva district.
He noted that throughout the years, Cambodia has spent $290 million on purchasing weapons from China.
“Frankly speaking, I am now transporting [the weapons] using a ship,” Mr Hun Sen said. “I spent $40 million to buy weapons from China.”
“I want to strengthen the armed forces’ military capabilities. When the shipment has arrived at the Sihanoukville port, I will not be afraid of any criticism,” he added. “Cambodia’s guns are too old, so I ordered hundreds of thousands of new weapons.”
Mr Hun Sen made the announcement after he reiterated that Cambodia has nothing to hide regarding the Ream Naval Base, which has faced allegations of a secret agreement to allow China to use it for military purposes.
“I reaffirm to people who have raised up the issue of a Chinese military presence in Cambodia,” he said. “There is no need for a secret agreement between Cambodia and China.”
Mr Hun Sen then ordered Defence Minister General Tea Banh to allow soldiers to practice shooting with live ammunition during training.
“I met soldiers in training and they requested real bullets,” he said. “I phoned Tea Banh and said from now on, a soldier can shoot as many bullets as he wants – give hundreds of thousands of bullets to our soldiers to shoot.”
Gen Banh yesterday said the weapons will arrive soon.
“[New] guns and military equipment is needed in order to strengthen military capabilities and ensure that we have all these things during training,” he said. “Military forces need to be equipped with these weapons when an incident happens.”
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay yesterday said Mr Hun Sen needs to equip the armed forces with new weapons.
Mr Mong Hay also said there are other factors involved, including geo-political and geo-strategic interests inside and outside of the Indo-Pacific region.
“A reasonable [person] would feel that Cambodia should give top priority to its navy and buy an adequate quantity of the best weapons, including battleships and patrol boats so it can protect its geo-interests and its maritime borders, which include islands and marine resources,” he said. “These geo-strategic interests and maritime borders have been under-protected for too long.”
Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, yesterday said he supports the need to modernise the defence sector.
“It’s necessary to purchase more weapons for the military sector because a country needs to have weapons to protect itself,” Mr Phea said. “Our neighbouring countries have started to strengthen their military sectors because of uncertainty in the region and the world. Each country has to reconsider strengthening their military sector.”