Cambodian Defence Ministry to introduce military conscription soon Monday, 2 August 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

By Khmerization
Source: Yun Samean, Radio Free Asia

A senior Cambodian Defence Ministry official said on 1st August that the ministry is poised to introduce a military conscription soon after the military reservist conscription sub-decree was signed by the king , reports Radio Free Asia.

Gen. Chhum Socheat, spokesman for the Defence Ministry, said the conscription is necessary to prepare the military force for the defence of the country. He said the conscription will start as soon as the sub-decree was signed by King Sihamoni.

He said the military reserve conscription will include recalling of contracted soldiers, professional retired soldiers or those who retired from the military before retiring age. The new conscripts will be required to perform military duties between 3 to 4 months.

Gen. Chhum Socheat said there is no decision of how many reservists will be conscripted or recruited, saying it all depends on the budget approved by the parliament.

He said the military reserves are established in accordance with article 5 of the Military Duty Act which requires that all Cambodian citizens aged 18 to 30 years to enter a compulsory military service. Gen. Chhum Socheat said the ministry will not fully implement the Military Duty Act yet, saying that the recruitment will be based on voluntary basis at this stage because the Defence Ministry did not have enough budget yet.

Mr. Cheam Yeap, chairman of the Parliamentary Finance Committee, said despite the government planning to increase the national budget, the government did not yet have any plan to increase defence budget. He said the 2010 national defence budget will be $500 million. And because the government wants to reduce military expenditures, the government had introduced the controversial Army-Business Partnership Scheme which would allow private businesses to fund certain military units. Mr. Cheam Yeap said Cambodia must prepare itself for war to defence its territory, but it does not means that Cambodia wants to cause a war with any nation.

Gen. Chhum Socheat said the new conscription is not done in response to the current border dispute with Thailand, saying that Cambodia currently has enough troops to defend the nation.

There is a military imbalance between Cambodia and Thailand. According to the U.S Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) website, Cambodia has only 6 million military age population, while Thailand has 35 million military age population.

Mr. Yim Sovan, spokesman for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said military reservists must be recruited based on a voluntary basis rather than a forced conscription. He said he is concerned that there will be corruption in the conscription process whereby only poor people will be conscripted while the rich and the powerful will be exempted.


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