Sar Kheng Warns Police Not To Break the Law

Deputy Prime Minister and co-Minister of Interior Sar Kheng opened a national seminar on tour­ist security Wednesday by warning police that they must do more to make tourists feel secure in Cambodia—while doing less to relieve them of their cash.

“If police and military police are poor in providing security services, tourists and investors won’t be spending their money or their time to have fun in such an un­safe area,” Sar Kheng said.

“You must regard good tourists as your boss and bad tourists as the enemy,” he added.

Sar Kheng said that on Tues­day evening he received complaints of a drunken officer insulting tourists at the Cham Yeam bor­der crossing in Koh Kong province.

He also said that property theft by gangs is on the rise in Cam­bo­dia and that police must increase their vi­g­ilance.

At the same time, he praised successes in ending a reign of terror by kidnapping gangs years ago and lauded Hun Sen’s so-called “iron fist” reform program for the judiciary.

Since Hun Sen’s speech last month, “court officials convict of­fenders with a maximum range of penalty. It is better now,” Sar Kheng said, noting that until a new criminal law is passed by the National Assembly, drug offenders can walk free after being fined as little as $5.

Sar Kheng also took aim at corruption among police and immigration officials.

“Tourists stand in line, wet with sweat, waiting while officials pass by with handfuls of passports to be stamped,” he said.

He urged of­ficers to stop de­manding bribes at airports and checkpoints in re­turn for processing visas and urged tourists to report any de­mands for bribes.

Thong Khon, secretary of state for the Tourism Ministry, said Wednesday that he is seeking to re­cruit volunteer youth guards at tourist sites around the country.

Currently there are 684 tourist police for the entire country—too small a force, he said, to guard an industry that brought Cambodia $777 million in 2004.

He also said that while tourists are concerned about theft, they also complain about overpriced goods at souvenir shops being hyped by tour guides working on commission.


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