Last week, Cambodia’s deputy military chief, the eldest son of Prime Minister Hun Sen, paid an introductory visit to Brunei since assuming his position. While the trip itself was part of a series of prescheduled introductory visits to neighboring states, it nonetheless spotlighted some of the ongoing activity on the defense aspect of the relationship between the two Southeast Asian countries.
Brunei and Cambodia, which established diplomatic relations in 1992, also have a defense component to their wider ties as well. Defense ties include basic components such as visits, exchanges, and training offered by Brunei to Cambodia, as well as wider multilateral security interactions including through ASEAN-led mechanisms which both countries participate in.
Last week, the bilateral defense relationship was in the headlines again with the visit of Hun Manet, the eldest of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s sons who now serves as the deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) and the chief of the Royal Cambodian Army (RCA).
The visit, which was Hun Manet’s introductory visit to Brunei, took place from July 23 to July 26. And while this had been scheduled previously and was in line with a series of trips Hun Manet has been making to other neighboring capitals as well, it nonetheless came amid a busy period in regional security, with concerns about a Chinese military facility in Cambodia as well as heightened tensions in the South China Sea with a standoff between Vietnam and China.
Hun Manet’s introductory visit saw him engage in a number of interactions at the Royal Brunei Land Force (RBLF) headquarters at Berakas Garrison. In terms of meetings, he met with several officials including the commander of the RBLF, the second minister of defense, and the commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces. Per Brunei’s defense ministry (MINDEF), during the meetings, the two sides discussed aspects of their defense relations as well as issues of common interest.
Apart from these meetings, Hun Manet’s trip also saw him undertake several other defense-related interactions as well as part of his visit. Per MINDEF, this included visits to the RBAF Simulation Training Centre, RBAF Museum, and the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies (SHHBIDSS).
Unsurprisingly, not much was publicly revealed about the content of the private deliberations between the two sides. Nonetheless, the interaction did reveal how both sides are continuing to engage on the defense side amid wider domestic and foreign policy developments.