The Defence Ministry yesterday said it has identified 61 tycoon title holders in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces since Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered all those in the service and the National Police to choose between their state positions or private titles.
Tycoon, or “okhna”, is a title given to those who have contributed at least $500,000 to the government. A number of tycoons hold key positions in the armed forces and the police.
Last month, a CPP spokesman said the move to make them choose is aimed at eradicating conflict of interest.
General Chhum Sucheat, spokesman for the Defence Ministry, yesterday said it has identified 61 tycoon titleholders at RCAF’s high-command headquarters thus far.
“Sixteen have agreed to give up their military positions. We are collecting more information.” Gen Sucheat said, adding that 45 other military officials gave up their tycoon titles.
Additionally, the National Police has identified 33 officials holding the tycoon title.
General Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said National Police are drafting a list to be reviewed.
“We are making a list, but what is important is that they relinquish the title or position on their own,” Gen Sopheak said. “So far, no one has done so yet. If they do not do so, we will have a meeting to discuss the issue.”
“We support [Mr Hun Sen’s order] 100 percent because we want to protect the sovereignty and ensure public security. We should not have multiple positions like that,” he added. “We can’t deny that people have been using the powers that came with the ‘okhna’ title to gain business advantage.”
Defence Minister General Tea Banh yesterday ordered all military officials to screen RCAF ranks for anyone who retained their tycoon title.
“I ordered all command headquarters to survey all RCAF officials,” Gen Banh said. “We only keep our positions. If they want to keep their ‘oknha’ title then they will need to give up their military rank.”
He added that a meeting will be held to review the findings.
“There aren’t many tycoons in the armed forces,” he said. “We will hold a meeting with those people and let them choose.”
“We are not discriminating against anyone, but this decision was based on our military reforms aimed at strengthening peace and building public trust,” Gen Banh added.
San Chey, executive director at the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, yesterday said regardless of which one they choose, police and military officials will still have the power to favour their business or violate the law.
Mr Chey said reducing corruption is not a matter of titles and positions, it’s about law enforcement.
“The best way is to strictly enforce the law here,” he said.