Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak on Monday dismissed a letter being circulated on social media claiming to detail sweeping reforms of military rankings as “fake and unofficial”.
The letter came to light after Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday instructed Minister of National Defence Tea Banh and Minister of Interior Sar Kheng to limit the number of military and police chiefs with four, three and two-star ranks.
Khieu Sopheak told The Post on Monday that officials have prepared the details of the reforms but the Ministry of Interior has not yet issued any official letter to the public.
He said the letter being shared on Facebook was clearly unofficial as it had no proper stamp, date or signature.
Sopheak said that if there were a major reform of the military, it would also affect the National Police, because both forces are under the government’s supervision.
“That letter cannot be considered official. Sometimes people post things playfully. These days it’s not difficult to make a fake letter. Crafty people do whatever they want to do, but the important thing is whether or not it has a stamp, a date and the name of the person signing the letter."
“If not, don’t believe it – it’s just a social network group playing around,” he said.
Sopheak added that these reforms have been part of the Ministry of Interior’s policy since before the national elections, but now the Prime Minister has given a new instruction which is also in line with the ongoing plan.
Speaking from the Chinese capital Beijing on Saturday, as he attended the 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, Prime Minister Hun Sen spelled out his stipulations for the allocation of star ranks.
Only the Minister of National Defence and the commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces will be able to wear four stars, while all deputy commanders-in-chief and department director-generals will 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.
The prime minister continued that secretaries of state and under-secretaries of state holding four stars would also be decreased to three stars, except for some veteran officials who would be allowed to keep their rank.
Hun Sen said the move also extended to police officials at the Ministry of Interior.
“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 Sar Kheng to reduce the requests for promotions in order to ensure the quality of our security forces,” Hun Sen said.