Heng Pov will be officially transferred from his position as Phnom Penh Municipal Police Commissioner this morning, officials said Thursday, while observers offered mixed assessments of his tenure in the position.
National Police Commissioner Hok Lundy said he would be too busy to attend the 8:30 am ceremony at City Hall, though he added that Interior Ministry Secretary of State Em Sam An and Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema will attend.
“I am busy with my work in the countryside,” Hok Lundy said of his scheduled absence.
Heng Pov could not be contacted, though Tong Ratana, deputy municipal police commissioner, said Heng Pov told his colleagues Thursday that he would become an undersecretary of state at the Interior Ministry.
Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Heng Pov is being promoted for his successes, while one international police expert spoke highly of Heng Pov’s police skills.
“He is known among the police, nationally and internationally, as a competent police manager,” the police expert said on condition of anonymity, adding that Heng Pov “is not a guy who is afraid to work or arrest offenders.”
He added that officials in the Interior Ministry may have been unhappy with how close Heng Pov was to Hun Sen, whom he serves as an adviser.
“Now we are waiting for what will happen to him in the ministry…will he be promoted or in a golden prison,” the expert said.
Mu Sochua, opposition party member and former minister of women’s affairs, applauded Heng Pov’s success in reducing crimes such as kidnappings.
“These crimes have really been reduced in the last few years,” she said. “If there is a will, there is a way.”
But she added that the lack of independence and neutrality of the police may have prevented Heng Pov from fulfilling his job to the best of his abilities.
She cited the killing of union leader Chea Vichea in January 2004 as one case that occurred shortly before Heng Pov was promoted to his position, and which she said was not then satisfactorily resolved.
Touch Naruth, police chief for Kompong Chhnang province, said he will replace Heng Pov at today’s ceremony.