Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sar Kheng warns officials, security forces against complacency

Sar Kheng warns officials, security forces against complacency

Interior Minister Sar Kheng poses with new Kratie Governor Va Thorn. Fresh News
Interior Minister Sar Kheng poses with new Kratie Governor Va Thorn. Fresh News

Sar Kheng warns officials, security forces against complacency

Interior Minister Sar Kheng told provincial security forces in Kratie on Thursday to remain vigilant for any opposition activity in the run-up to July’s national elections, while also warning that a popular opposition movement would only come about from the government’s failure to cater to people’s needs.

“We must join together to keep, protect and strengthen peace, sovereignty and political stability,” he said. “That is the main condition for supporting the process of multiparty liberal democracy and socioeconomic development.”

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of new Kratie Governor Va Thorn, Kheng warned that revolution would only be possible if the people are dissatisfied with the government, though he maintained that the Cambodia National Rescue Party, which secured 44 percent of the popular vote in the 2013 elections, was an illegal entity attempting to sow chaos.

The CNRP was forcibly dissolved last November at the government’s behest for allegedly fomenting a foreign-backed “colour revolution”, though little evidence has ever been presented.

Kheng on Thursday said the decision was right and lawful.

“The competent authorities . . . must pay attention to prevent and take legal action against any activities that attempt to make Cambodian society fall into chaos [and] turmoil,” he said.

However, he noted that any successful anti-government movement would be “born from our inactivity or weakness – from a small issue becoming a big issue”.

“Therefore we need to check even the smallest problem, from the tip of our hair to the tip of our toes,” he said.

Kheng maintained that the Cambodian People’s Party has ruled successfully for decades because it has served the will of the people and made no major mistakes.

“There have been some small mistakes, but they are not serious and it is not dangerous for the country,” he said, going on to call for reform at all levels of government.

“I am not blaming but we need to study and learn what we have done that may have made them not vote for us,” he said.

This is not the first time Kheng has called for government officials to look inward to find the causes of unrest in Cambodia. In 2016, he also warned that government “inactivity” could lead to revolution.

At the time the comments were in stark contrast with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s own rhetoric, which has laid the blame for popular discontent at the feet of criminals and foreign powers.

Paul Chambers, a Southeast Asia expert and lecturer at Naresuan University, said the comments reflect a “personal judgment that the Hun Sen government cannot simply take the people for granted”.

“If it is Sar Kheng’s standpoint, then this could reflect a distancing of opinion between himself and Hun Sen.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,

  • Capital-Poipet express rail project making headway

    The preliminary results of a feasibility study to upgrade the Phnom Penh-Poipet railway into Cambodia’s first express railway indicate that the project would cost more than $4 billion and would take around four years to complete. The study was carried out by China Road and

  • Thai boxers to join SEA Games’ Kun Khmer event

    The Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) – together with the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) and Khmer Boxing Federation – have achieved a “great success” by including Kun Khmer in the upcoming biennial multi-sports event on its home soil for the first time, said a senior

  • Bullets to bracelets: Siem Reap man makes waste from war wearable

    Jewellery is often made from valuable gemstones like emeralds or diamonds and precious metals like gold or silver, or valueless things like animal horns. But a man in Siem Reap has approached the manufacture of delicate pieces from a different angle. His unique form of

  • 61% of 2022 imports came from just 3 markets

    The three largest exporters to Cambodia – mainland China, Vietnam and Thailand – accounted for 60.94 per cent of the Kingdom’s total merchandise imports last year, at $18.245 billion, which was up 11.99 per cent over 2021, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise. Cambodia’s total imports