Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday ordered the Defence and Interior Ministers to restructure the ranks of military and police officials in a bid to reduce the number of Generals within the military and police.
According to media reports, Mr Hun Sen made the order in Beijing as he attended the second annual Belt and Road Forum.
Mr Hun Sen said all Generals of the Royal Cambodian Armed forces who are deputy commanders must be restructured as Lieutenant Generals, as well as secretaries of states and undersecretaries of states who are Generals.
Mr Hun Sen said the rank of General should only be held by the Defence Minister, the RCAF commander-in-chief and the head of the National Police. He noted that heads of the Defence and Interior Ministry general departments must hold the rank of Major General.
“Regarding the armed forces, I think that our reform only applies to high-ranking and low-ranking army commanders,” he said. “Next time, when navy and air force commanders retire, their predecessors will be ranked Lieutenant General – only the RCAF’s commander-in-chief will rank General.”
Mr Hun Sen noted that a majority of Interior and Defence Ministry Generals will also be ranked Lieutenant General, aside from a handful of senior officials. He then said that the government will inform both ministries to conduct additional studies regarding the restructuring.
General Hing Bunheang, commander of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Bodyguard Unit, yesterday said he agrees with the government’s initiative to restructure rankings.
“We will implement an order when it is given because we are members of the armed forces and we must respect our superiors,” Gen Bunheang said, adding that he does not know the exact figures of how many Generals there are in the Kingdom.
However, it has been speculated that there are hundreds of one to four star Generals in both ministries.
RCAF’s infantry spokesman Major General Phalla said the restructuring is needed to make clear who is in charge.
He noted that Mr Hun Sen’s order will only take effect in the future when old Generals are retiring.
“Prime Minister Hun Sen does not want to restructure the ranks now,” Maj Gen Phalla said. “He wants to do it in the future when old Generals have retired and new officials will replace them.”
Lieutenant General Chhay Kim Khoeun, spokesman for the National Police, yesterday said he also supports Mr Hun Sen’s order.
“It is good because it avoids an inflation of high-ranking officials,” Lt Gen Kim Khoeun said, adding that it will increase the worth of high-ranking officials. “Samdech Techo Hun Sen does this, and I support him.”
Brigadier General Yung Khemara, deputy commander of Army Brigade 70, said she supports the order because it is a good rule.
“It is an encouragement for all soldiers because the gap between soldiers and senior officials will not be as big,” Brig Gen Khemara said.
She noted that many current Generals do not have the equivalent job responsibilities the rank demands.
General Chhum Sucheat, spokesman for the Defence Ministry, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Currently, the position of commander-in-chief is being held by General Vong Pisen, who was promoted last year.
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay yesterday said Mr Hun Sen intends to discipline Generals, while empowering the Minister of Defence and commander-in-chief positions.
“Apparently, the latter may have difficulties asserting his power and authority over his once seniors when he was all of a sudden promoted to become their peer and their boss last year,” Mr Mong Hay said.