Rice Trader Claims Being Wrongly Fined

A rice trader on Monday filed a complaint with the Anti-Corruption Unit, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cabinet and three ministries alleging that officials in Kompong Cham province had wrongly fined her for an overweight truck after using improperly weighted scales.

Saing Darlin had her truck impounded by public works officials in Tbong Khmum district on December 2 as she was trying to transport 23 tons of paddy rice to the Vietnamese border from Siem Reap. Officials have refused to return the vehicle unless she pays a fine of 6.13 million riel, or about $1,500. 

“I brought rice amounting to 23 tons and my empty truck weighs only 16 tons, so the weight of the entire truck was around 38 or 39 tons. But they weighed my truck and found that it was 45 tons,” she said. “They exploited me by using their scale to measure my truck and finding that it was 45 tons.”

Ms. Darlin has also filed a complaint with the municipal court seeking the return of her truck, which is currently impounded at district police headquarters, as well as compensation for the paddy she had been transporting, which has been damaged due to heavy rain.

Noun Kim Heng, deputy director of the provincial public works department, strenuously denied Ms. Darlin’s allegations and said that his officials had weighed her truck several times using a high-quality scale made in Korea.

“Obviously, the empty truck weighs over 17 tons,” he said.

Chhay Savuth, vice president of the Anti-Corruption Unit, said the unit would review the complaint.

“If the [truck owner] was asked to pay a fine based on the law, it doesn’t matter. It would be a corruption law if the payment was sought contrary to the law,” he said.

District police said they would not release Ms. Darlin’s truck until the provincial court hands down a decision on the matter.

“It is a difficult issue, so only the court can handle it,” said deputy district police chief Lung Sarin

© 2013, All rights reserved.