Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cambodian military, business cosy up as premier calls for support Read more:,cambodian-military-busine

Phnom Penh - Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen has asked business leaders to help fund the country's military, saying all citizens of the South-East Asian nation have a duty "to defend the nation," national media reported Thursday. "This is not a legal duty that you have to do - the support is voluntary according to your ability," the Cambodia Daily newspaper quoted him as saying.

Hun Sen's speech was followed by a get-together late Wednesday hosted by the prime minister where senior military officials were scheduled to meet 250 leading business people.

Government spokesman Prak Sokhon told the newspaper that the aim was to establish a strong relationship between business and the military.

"To sponsor a battalion - well, 'sponsor' is a big word, but the private companies will help as far as they can," Prak Sokhon said. "In the past they sent food and so on to the border - it will be this kind of relationship."

Earlier this month Hun Sen addressed troops near the Thai-Cambodian border and heaped praise on a number of businessmen for providing support to the army.

"[They] donated 7,000 wooden beds at a total cost of 210,000 dollars," Hun Sen said, before outlining further requirements. "I need 30,000 beds for the [army], military police and the police who are standing by at the Cambodian-Thai border."

Hun Sen also announced Wednesday that he would visit troops on the Cambodian-Thai border this weekend in the north-western province of Battambang.

However, he refuted any link with the imminent verdict in the case against Thailand's fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra. Thailand's Supreme Court is set to rule Friday on whether to seize 2.3 billion dollars of Thaksin's assets.

Thaksin was appointed as an adviser to the Cambodian government last year, a move that ramped up tensions between the two nations.

Cambodia's military has long been accused by human rights groups of involvement in illegal activities, including logging, mining, land grabs and human rights abuses.

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