Lieutenant General Hun Manet, the deputy commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) and commander of the army’s infantry, has hit back at critics who claimed the recent purchase of 290 military trucks was useless and a waste of state money.
Manet said the trucks were useful and weren’t purchased using state money.
He made the statement on Thursday while presiding over the handover of the trucks to RCAF units and the National Police at Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh.
Manet said: “[We] did not spend a single riel of the state budget. I want to stress that Prime Minister Hun Sen’s appeal to help the military is nothing new. He has done this for ages.
“There is nothing new about companies and generous donors helping the military. They have done so often to reduce the burden on the government.”
He said the trucks were purchased before the start of the Covid-19 outbreak and wouldn’t have been purchased during the virus crisis.
Manet said he wanted to explain the situation because the government faced criticism for the purchase.
“Don’t think that the military has no consideration. We ordered the trucks in 2019 and booked the company to build them.
“The outbreak of Covid-19 was unexpected and unpredictable. The ceremony to receive the trucks was scheduled to take place early this year, but it was delayed because the trucks were stranded in China,” he said.
He said the trucks will be used by the armed forces if Cambodia faces natural disasters or needs intervention due to Covid-19. They would not be used for private purposes.
“Until this hour, we received a lot of praise from the public. They appreciate that we have such modern trucks for use in missions,” he said.
RCAF infantry spokesman Brigadier General Mao Phalla told The Post on Thursday that 250 of the 290 trucks were given to RCAF units and the other 40 went to the General Commissariat of the National Police.
Phalla confirmed that the money to purchase the trucks came from donors and benefactors called on by Hun Sen.
Cambodian Centre for Applied Philosophy and Ethics director Pa Chanroeun said on Thursday that he agreed with the purchase of the trucks if they are used to solve social issues or help during the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.
He said the trucks should be used transparently and without discrimination. He also called on the government to be transparent with its spending.
“In the past, some budget spending has been less than transparent. Information was lacking [on the spending]. Quick access to information should be encouraged. Hopefully, they understand the processes of managing the national budget,” he said.