Cambodia, Malaysia boost military ties

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Malaysian ambassador Eldeen Husaini (second from left) said he expects a joint military drill to happen next year. Hean Rangsey

Malaysian ambassador to Cambodia Eldeen Husaini said he expects a joint military drill with Cambodia to happen next year while military courses under the Malaysian Defence Cooperation Programme (MDCP) could be brought directly to the Kingdom.

Eldeen revealed the plan during a lunch gathering with alumni and participants from Cambodia who received military training under MDCP. He said the military programme would continue to be provided to Cambodia.

He said military cooperation between the two nations is good at the moment, but there is a lot that needs to improve.

“Even though the cooperation and agreements are there, I can still see potential for us to grow even closer. We plan to offer more courses and hold military exercises together with Cambodia, which I will propose to the Cambodian government as a general advised me to do,” he said.

The military exercise is expected to take place in Cambodia, but could be conducted in Malaysia next year, depending on discussions, he said.

“What we plan to do is bring our trainers to Cambodia. The military can come to our embassy and we can conduct the courses there,” he said.

Courses under the Malaysian Defence Cooperation Programme have been offered to the Cambodian military since 2002, during which 138 Cambodian troops went for training in Malaysia, Eldeen said.

He said there were communication challenges during the courses in Malaysia. This prompted him to think of offering the course at the Malaysian embassy in Cambodia where the training can be translated into Khmer.

Colonel Sun Chamroeun, a member of the Kampong Speu provincial military who spent 2016 and 2017 taking the defence course, thanked both governments for making this cooperation possible.

“The course gave me knowledge in diplomacy and military cooperation between military attaches at each embassy. It taught me about defence sectors and what each country has to do to maintain peace,” he said.

Kin Phea, the director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, said it was a good initiative to propose a military exercise with Malaysia.

“As Cambodia and Malaysia are members of ASEAN, a joint military exercise shows good cooperation and solidarity in the two nations’ regional and bilateral security.

“A joint military drill can enable both countries to gain best practises from each other in national security work,” he said, adding that military cooperation between the two nations is currently modest.

During the visit of then-Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to Cambodia last September, the two nations acknowledged that defence cooperation needed to be strengthened through more training and information sharing.

The leaders of the two countries encouraged their officials to explore innovative ways to develop this cooperation, according to the joint statement. Better coordination in terms of security needed to be established between the two countries, it read.

“The leaders also underscored the importance of Cambodia-Malaysia security cooperation, especially in maintaining peace and stability in light of the challenges and threats in the region,” the joint statement said.