‘Perfect’ Military Police Honored With Cash

Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong on Thursday handed out a total of $30,000 in cash gifts to about 1,000 military police at a ceremony praising their “perfect” service and discipline after a year that saw many violent, and at times deadly, protests.

Speaking to rows of armed and fully suited military police inside the concrete grounds of the Phnom Penh municipal military police headquarters, Mr. Socheatvong blamed most of the past year’s unrest on the opposition CNRP.

Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong, left, inspects military police officers during a ceremony on Thursday in which he handed out about $30,000 to the force as a reward for what he called its 'perfect' performance over the last year. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong, left, inspects military police officers during a ceremony on Thursday in which he handed out about $30,000 to the force as a reward for what he called its ‘perfect’ performance over the last year. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

The party led many protests, all but one of them peaceful, around Phnom Penh against what it considered fraudulent national elections in July 2013 that officially delivered the ruling CPP another five-year mandate. But mass strikes also convulsed the country’s large garment industry at the same time, leading to some violent protests that police and military officials put down with extreme violence in early January, killing five people and injuring dozens more.

“Obviously the National Rescue Party led demonstrations 86 times and provoked violence three times,” Mr. Socheatvong said without elaborating.

“In response to anarchic activities, the forces of the Phnom Penh military police and police fulfilled their roles perfectly and allowed the people to go about their business as normal,” he said. “With this big achievement I can say that the Phnom Penh military police have real discipline and follow the orders of the high ranking officers.”

The governor said that the opposition’s recent decision to take its National Assembly seats after a yearlong boycott had helped to restore some order to the city’s streets, but added that the work of the military police was far from over.

“There have appeared new demonstrations,” he said. “Strikes have been led by unions at factories, and rights activists and forest activists have gathered to demonstrate with the intention of disturbing the development of the country and to provoke insecurity.”

Major General Rath Srieng, commander of the municipal military police, also addressed the crowd to defend their use of assault rifles.

“Why do we use AKs like this?” he said. “We carry weapons like this to combat criminals who want to oppose the military police.”

The government and security forces were widely criticized for what was broadly considered an excessive use of force in responding to the protests in January. The government says it has investigated the fatal shootings but has yet to release its findings.

Mr. Socheatvong wrapped up the event by doling out the $30,000 to the gathered officers, courtesy of Prime Minister Hun Sen, he said.

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