Prime Minister Hun Sen announced Tuesday that a national maritime security committee would be created within three months.
In comments made during a maritime security seminar in Phnom Penh, the prime minister said Minister of Defense Tea Banh will be in charge of the as yet unformed committee.
“Now we are exploring for oil and gas, so we have to strengthen security for the investing companies. If we cannot protect them, they will be attacked by terrorists or pirates, so it is a significant issue,” the prime minister said.
He added that the maritime security committee will not be a defense force.
“Our duty is to protect our maritime coast. It is not the right time for countries to strengthen their military to compete for maritime space or islands…but it’s the time for cooperation from every country against piracy,” he said.
SRP lawmaker and party spokesman Yim Sovann said the proposed committee appears to serve little purpose.
“I am concerned [that] it just creates more bureaucracy and will overlap the work of the navy,” Mr Sovann said, adding that the “creation of a new institution is creating another opportunity for corruption.”
Mr Sovann said the navy should be strengthened instead of creating a new committee. “What is the navy doing? What is customs doing? And what are the police doing? We have enough [resources],” he said.