Interior Minister Sar Kheng held a “solidarity dinner” with some 500 traffic police on Wednesday, ordering them to be strong in dealing with infringing motorists ahead of the implementation of the new Land Traffic Law, officials said Friday.
The new law, which was passed in December and is supposed to be implemented in January, aims to standardize the punishment of traffic offenders, who have in the past paid arbitrary fines after being stopped by police.
Following the dinner Wednesday, Mr. Kheng was quoted Friday on the National Police website urging police—often ignored or abused by motorists—to be stern in their approach to offenders, offering perks for those who are.
“For enforcement [of the new traffic law], if our police act gentle because people are angry that they are being fined after transgressing, or if they take bribes, motorists will not respect the law,” Mr. Kheng was quoted as saying.
“[I] encourage the promotion of ranks and can provide new positions to police officers who correctly implement the law and respect discipline and order.”
Last month, the National Police received 25 Mazda pickup trucks —a “gift” from National Police Commissioner Neth Savoeun—to assist in enforcement of the traffic law.
The Interior Ministry has also rolled out a schedule of fines for all traffic offenses, and has offered increased cash incentives for officers who go through the proper procedure of punishing and fining offenders.
Run Rathveasna, chief of the National Police’s department of public order, said that these three initiatives together would drive police to make the streets safer for motorists.
“Our mobile police forces will check vehicles every day along national roads and the new pickup trucks will be used to chase vehicles that are speeding or whose driver is drunk,” he said.
Currently, all fines that are formally processed are split three ways: 20 percent goes to the Ministry of Finance, 50 percent goes to the officer and 30 percent goes back into traffic police coffers.
Come January, according to Ly Long, deputy chief of the public order department, the split will change, with the officer taking 70 percent of all fines collected, the police force getting 25 percent and the ministry receiving 5 percent.
Monitoring traffic on a busy corner along Sihanouk Boulevard on Friday, a 29-year-old officer who asked not to be named predicted that the prospect of a promotion would be enough to encourage officers to formalize the punishment of offenders, and that the roads would become safer as a result.
“I will formally fine those who violate the law by issuing notices when fining offenders,” she said. “I think it will impact people’s behavior when we start to implement the law because breaking the law will cost them lots of money.”