A senior municipal military police official said Wednesday that an investigation will be launched into allegations that officials from his department have been demanding fines from students with dyed hair.
Viet Tha, deputy municipal military police commander, said he was unaware of such shakedowns occurring, but added that officials under his control would examine the claims.
“We just keep good security,” he said, adding that he did not believe the accusations. “All kinds of activities that could affect human rights, we do not do them.”
His statement came two days after the Ministry of Information issued a statement urging the public to contact authorities if officials had fined them for dyeing their hair.
The Monday statement—made soon after popular singer Chea Sovanna’s return to television, after having being temporarily banned following a performance deemed too racy for Cambodian audiences —said that male presenters should not dye their hair or grow it long, and that female singers should not wear short skirts. But it added that the public “should report immediately to the authorities” if they are approached for fines over their hair.
A 19-year-old student identifying himself as Pagnasoth said Wednesday that he was stopped by three military police officials on Monivong Boulevard last week and briefly detained for having highlighted hair. He said he was only released after he called his father, who paid them a small amount of money.
“They asked me to pay money if I wanted to go because I wore a student uniform therefore I could not highlight my hair,” he said.
A student at Wat Koh High School identifying herself as Thavery, 18, said military police fined her $2.50 near O’Russei market last week for having highlights and blonde hair.
“Those…military police said there was an order from top leaders to ban all students from highlighting their hair,” she said.
Muoy Ly, who owns a hairdresser’s salon at Phsar Kandal, said she experienced a surge of student customers last week who wanted their hair dyed back to black because they were afraid of being arrested.