Group Trashes Cambodian Plan For Sponsored Army


Senior Member
Feb 23, 2009
Group Trashes Cambodian Plan For Sponsored Army

Published: 6 Mar 2010 16:17

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - A British institute has condemned a Cambodian government plan to use private businesses to sponsor the country's military units.

London-based Global Witness said the plan announced by Cambodian premier Hun Sen last week, in which 42 private businesses will partner with individual military units, "threatens to undermine the legitimacy of international aid."

"This fire-sale of military units represents an appalling breach of governance standards and threatens to undermine the country's future stability," Global Witness campaigns director Gavin Hayman said.

The group called on international donors to denounce the scheme, saying it would undermine aid from the United States, EU, Japan and others.

"Donors should send a firm and decisive message that Cambodia's military exists to protect the people, not the financial assets of a privileged few," Hayman said.

International donors pledged nearly $1 billion in development aid to Cambodia for 2009, and the U.S. spent more than $1 million on Cambodian military financing and training last year.

The strongly-worded statement by Global Witness, which also accused Cambodia's military of being "a vast organized crime network," called the government plan "tantamount to sanctioning a mercenary force."

"It is unacceptable for private companies to be financing a military renowned for its corruption and involvement in illegal activities, and human rights abuses," said the statement.

Cambodian cabinet spokesman Phay Siphan denied Global Witness accusations that there was graft among the country's armed forces.

"The watchdog doesn't know the culture of sharing among Cambodians. ... The donation is an issue of humanitarianism, there is no mixing between the private sector and the military," Phay Siphan told AFP.

The Cambodian government has banned past reports by Global Witness, which accused donors of ignoring graft among elites who have allegedly been involved in illegal logging as well as shady oil and mining deals.

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