PM: Gov’t Needs Boats to Fight Crime, Terror

The government needs to purchase patrol ships from China to fight piracy, terrorism and drug smuggling, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Saturday.

Speaking at a school inauguration in Prey Veng province’s Kamchay Mear district, Hun Sen said that piracy, terrorism and drug smug­gling have become urgent is­sues, yet officials have no ships to patrol the coastline.

“The patrol of police and RCAF sol­diers is limited,” Hun Sen said in an address televised on Apsara TV. “How can we crack down on [drug smuggling] if we don’t have patrol ships?”

He added that the need to provide security on the coast is particularly important, given the likelihood of more oil com­panies seeking to ex­plore Cam­bodian waters in the fu­ture. In January, petroleum giant Chev­ronTexaco an­noun­ced that it had dis­covered pockets of oil be­neath Cambodian waters.

Last week, the Defense Minis­try said it is planning to purchase se­veral Chinese boats to help the na­vy combat an increasing number of smugglers operating along the coastline. The cost and number of ships have not been disclosed.

Calls to co-Minister of Defense Tea Banh for comment were un­successful Sunday.

In his speech, Hun Sen said that the government has planned to purchase the ships since he visited China in November 2004.

Hun Sen also responded to critics who have blasted the government for spending money on ships of dubious quality.

The ships that the government wants to buy haven’t been made, Hun Sen said, adding that negotiations are not yet complete.

Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay said Sunday that the government should reform the De­fense Ministry before it purchases the ships. He accused naval commanders of turning a blind eye to illegal fishing.

He said that the deal must be ap­proved by the National Assembly and the cost must be disclosed to ensure it is reasonable and the en­gines operate well.


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