A military commander in Svay Rieng province has ordered the local border police to stop checking products imported from and exported to Vietnam, drawing accusations from border police that he has struck a deal with merchants to allow them to move their goods with no official scrutiny.
Kung Khorn, commander of the province’s Kompong Ro district battalion, said Monday he ordered the 30-plus border police at the Prey Voar border crossing to halt inspections of products to and from Vietnam.
He said he did this to stop guards from charging unofficial fees to those crossing the border.
“I asked them to stop taking people’s money because the people trade only small amounts of rice, and if we charge them money it will affect their standard of living,” Kung Khorn said.
Border police officers, however, said the checks were halted because Kung Khorn made a deal with unnamed merchants that allows the merchants to transfer goods without inspections.
Border police at the Prey Voar border crossing do not receive any money in these transactions because Kung Khorn allegedly receives at least $500 every three days from the merchants, Neak Sithol, Prey Voar border police chief, said Monday. He could offer no proof for his accusations.
“They asked me not to check goods because the goods that pass through [from the merchants] have been guaranteed already,” Neak Sithol said. “They ordered the [border police] unit to stay in one place, and they said that if we check the goods it will affect the economic process.”
Neak Sithol said stopping the border checks would be “risky” to his officers. “I am very worried that I will be fired because we don’t check the goods,” he said.
Kung Khorn denied the charges.
“They exaggerated the information,” he said. “Those police officers never come to work and if we didn’t pity them, we would fire them.”