Sar Kheng Says Promotions Await Police Who Stop Ministers

Speaking at a gathering of more than 100 police officers and civil servants on Tuesday, Interior Minister Sar Kheng promised promotions to any traffic officers with the temerity to issue a ticket to a government minister under the country’s new Land Traffic Law.

Implementation of the new law—passed in December last year—is set to officially begin on January 1. The law places harsher penalties on offenses such as speeding and drunk driving, includes restrictions limiting the number of passengers on a motorbike and requires that helmets be worn by all.

Interior Minister Sar Kheng addresses police officers and civil servants during a ceremony on Tuesday in Phnom Penh. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Interior Minister Sar Kheng addresses police officers and civil servants during a ceremony on Tuesday in Phnom Penh. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

“Now is the time we have to enforce the law and not care if someone is big or small,” Mr. Kheng said, speaking at a ceremony to announce the composition of the new National Road Safety Committee at the Interior Ministry.

“Oh! I am a general and I’m driving a car without respect for the law,” the minister continued, imitating a law-breaking official. “[We] altogether cannot do like this under the law.”

“If there was any minister doing wrong and traffic police fine them, I will give them one stripe,” he said, referring to stripes on epaulets denoting an official’s rank.

Mr. Kheng said that the era of the powerful people seeking help from high-ranking officials to get out of traffic offenses also must come to an end.

“I would like to appeal to those doing wrong to please not ask for intervention,” he said, mockingly suggesting that those seeking special treatment should only speak to him, the transport minister or the National Police chief.

“Now if they want intervention, please call to Samdech Kralahorm [Mr. Kheng], His Excellency Tram Iv Tek and His Excellency Neth Savoeun,” Mr. Kheng said.

Mr. Sar Kheng also told the audience that the Interior Ministry would forbid traffic police from collecting fines directly on the street when the new traffic law is implemented next month.

Instead, the minister said, traffic officers at roadside checkpoints would only be allowed to issue tickets, which offending drivers would need to pay at a different location.

“I have banned traffic police from taking money directly at the place,” Mr. Kheng said. “They can just issue a ticket to the vehicle owner…and point them to pay at a nearby police post.”

Contacted following Mr. Kheng’s speech, Run Rathveasna, director of the National Police’s public order department, said that with only days left before the traffic law comes into force, details of the new fine system still needed to be sorted out.

“The General Commissariat of the National Police will have a meeting on December 17 to discuss further where we should install posts so that it is easy to pay,” Lieutenant General Rathveasna said.

He added that drivers who refused to pay their traffic fines would eventually be sent to court.

“At the checkpoint, we will take all the vehicle and motorbike numbers and IDs,” he said, adding that a Ministry of Public Works’ database would be used to connect this information with drivers’ home addresses.

“We will tell them at the checkpoint, if they do not pay within 30 days the fine will be doubled, within 60 days the fine will be tripled and after 90 days we will send the case to court.”

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