Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday announced reforms stipulating that only the Minister of National Defence and the commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) will be allowed to hold the rank of four-star general.
To ensure quality in the armed forces and strengthen discipline, current four-star generals would now hold the three-star rank but their positions would be kept, he said.
Hun Sen was speaking from the Chinese capital Beijing as he attended the second “Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation”.
Hun Sen said that in the military, only the Minister of National Defence and the commander-in-chief of the RCAF will be able to wear four stars, while all deputy commanders-in-chief and department director-generals would wear three stars, with deputy director-generals wearing two.
He added that the commanders of army, air force and navy units will now wear only three stars, with regional commanders carrying two.
He continued that secretaries of state and under- secretaries of state holding four stars would also be decreased to three stars, except for some old officials who would be allowed to keep their rank.
Hun Sen said the move also extended to police officials in the Ministry of Interior.
“I will not make any further appointments to the rank of four stars, only for two stars. As we can see, the Minister of National Defence has four stars and officials attached to the Minister of National Defence also have four stars – there are too many. However, director-generals who currently have three stars will be allowed to keep them."
“I also say this to the police – do not allow officials to get too many stars. The police is only a small force, but there are too many people with four, three and two stars."
“So I also send this message to [Minister of Interior] Sar Kheng to reduce the requests for promotions in order to ensure the quality of our security forces. For our old soldiers, we put them in this position or that position if we want to give them an incentive,” Hun Sen said.
Hing Bun Heang, RCAF deputy commander-in-chief and commander of Hun Sen’s Bodyguard Unit, on Sunday said he backed the reform as it would increase discipline and order.
Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak could not be reached by The Post for comment on Sunday.
Preap Kol, the executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, on Sunday said he supported the reform to the security forces, saying it would increase their effectiveness, make savings to the national budget and better reflect merit and ability.
“When so many officials attain a high rank, it becomes meaningless. Stars like those in the night sky become worthless. Like anything, when there is too much of it, it loses its value, while something rare retains its worth. [This reform] will make people strive harder [as] they compete for the rewards.”
King Norodom Sihamoni promoted more than 300 military officials last year. According to the Royal Decree signed by the King, three officials were promoted to four-star general, while 13 received three stars, 114 two stars and 178 one star.