Hun Manet came out in support of an almost 20 percent increase pegged for the nation’s defence spending over the weekend, saying the bolstered funds would silence social media critics who bemoaned a lack of support for soldiers.
The prime minister’s eldest son, who is also a lieutenant general in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, told a gathering of servicemen at a naval base in Preah Sihanouk the military was getting “stronger and stronger”.
The Defence Ministry has enjoyed substantial increases for each of the past nine years.
“This is not a coincidence, but because Samdech Techo [Hun Sen] has been paying attention to our soldiers and increasing the national budget [to $455 million in 2017].”
Manet decried the “propaganda” and “exaggerations” spread on social media depicting soldiers at the border being forced to stomach sub-par rice.
“A huge part of increasing the national defence budget is increasing salaries for our brothers and sisters in the army, because it is our brothers and sisters who protect territorial integrity . . . When there is fighting, you must fight and the government must guarantee there is sufficient training and equipment,” he said.
However, opposition spokesman Yim Sovann said that while salary increases would be welcome, during times of peace, there was no need to increase the defence budget by one-fifth, saying those funds should instead be diverted to a broader social security projects for all Cambodians.