Lawmaker Angry After Car Searched for Wood

Five military police officers are set to be disciplined after they upset a CPP lawmaker by pulling him over as he drove along National Road 7 in Kompong Cham on Tuesday, acting on a tip that he was carrying illegally logged rosewood in his car, military police and the lawmaker said on Thursday.

CPP stalwart Sieng Nam, who represents Siem Reap in the National Assembly, said he was twice stopped by military police—once in the town of Skun and once about 10 km down the road in Batheay district—as he was riding in his Lexus LX570 toward Phnom Penh, where he was scheduled to receive the Union Media of Asean’s Peace and Development Award.

“They said someone had reported that my vehicle was hiding rosewood,” he said. “They said, ‘Your vehicle is hiding rosewood, please get out quickly.’ They ordered me to stand up straight. Did they know who I am? I have a National Assembly number plate.”

“I suspect they saw that my vehicle was dirty because I had no time to clean it, and there were people sleeping in the car. Maybe they think we are black, like rosewood.”

Mr. Nam said he had become frustrated and telephoned National Military Police Commander Sao Sokha to complain about what he considered his poor treatment at the hands of the military police.

“The second time, I contacted Sao Sokha and later he scolded his officers. I told him, ‘Your officers chased my vehicle.’” he said. “I told their boss [General Sokha], ‘Please educate your officers. Please stop doing that in the future. Please advise them to learn the law.’”

The lawmaker said Gen. Sokha then ordered the officers involved in the stops to apologize and promised to find out the identity of the tipster who told them Mr. Nam was transporting wood.

Eng Hy, spokesman for the military police, said that although the first group of officers who stopped Mr. Nam in Skun would not be disciplined, the second group of five officers, who stopped the lawmaker in Batheay district, were in the wrong and would be punished.

The second group, he explained, claimed to have received the same tip from the same source, but erred in stopping a vehicle in Kompong Cham province because they were supposed to be stationed in Kompong Chhnang.

“It was a mistake because their duty is in Kompong Chhnang, but they dared to catch a vehicle in Kompong Cham province,” he said.

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