Prime Minister Says Sorry for Snubbing Helmet Law

After thousands of Facebook users mocked Prime Minister Hun Sen for failing to wear a helmet when he decided to jump on the driver’s seat of a moto-taxi over the weekend, the premier apologized on Monday and volunteered to pay the relevant fine.

“I apologize publicly for my wrongdoing…. It was very careless of me not to wear a helmet,” he said during a speech at a graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh.

Photographs posted to Mr. Hun Sen’s Facebook page on Saturday show him riding pillion behind a moto-taxi driver before moving to the front—failing to put on a helmet hanging from the front of the vehicle.

While saying that he drove a mere 250 meters down a small road, Mr. Hun Sen conceded that he was not above the law.

“Please do not follow this bad example set by me,” he said. “Of course, I will pay the fine.”

The new traffic law, which came into force in January, prescribes a fine of 15,000 riel, or about $3.75, for motorbike drivers and passengers caught without a helmet.

According to the World Health Organization, 73 percent of traffic-related deaths in 2014 involved motorcyclists, only 12 percent of whom were wearing helmets.

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