Security Cited In Reshuffle of Police Officials

Citing police incompetence and a need to strengthen security for the Asean Summit, officials said over the weekend that the government would transfer four top police officials and about 18 low-ranking police officers to different postings.

The police shake-ups come at a time when the country’s police forces are in the spotlight, with a rising fear of terrorism activity in the region and the upcoming Asean Summit—which will bring in prime ministers and presidents from Japan, South Korea, China, India and all Asean countries—scheduled to take place on Nov 4 and Nov 5 in Phnom Penh.

“This is an attempt by the government to reform,” Phnom Penh Police Chief Suon Chheangly said Sunday. “This is also involved in Asean, because Asean and security for the Asean Summit is a very important historical event.”

Many of the police officers to be moved have not done anything wrong, yet some have health problems and cannot competently do their jobs, he said.

“If we kept them in their jobs it would be dangerous for Asean—we want a good, high profile for our security,” Suon Chheangly said.

One official, however, said that the police are being moved to different positions because they either do their jobs poorly or have held the same position for too long.

“Transferring these police is common for the government because these police cannot stay in one place forever,” said Sau Phan, deputy director general of the National Police, adding that some police are incompetent and do very little work.

Sau Phan downplayed the idea that the transfers were due to security at the Asean Summit. He said only the transfers of two officials—Traffic Police Chief El Samneang and Deputy Chief of Public Order for Phnom Penh Kong Sarann—were directly related to the Asean Summit.

“Traffic and order are very important for the Asean Summit,” he said on Sunday.

Some of the transfers, he said, were ordered “a long time ago” but could not be properly implemented. Doing the transfers all at once would be much more efficient, he said.

Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara confirmed on Sunday that the municipal police officials would be changed. But he also said that he did not know why the transfers were taking place.

Besides El Samneang and Kong Sarann, Chea Sophara said that Tuol Kok Police Chief Kim Hourn and Riem Sarin, chief of minor crimes for the municipality, will be moved to different positions.

Chea Sophara did not know the positions to which the police would be transferred.

Kim Hourn said on Sunday that he will be moving to the city’s Anti-Trafficking of Humans Department—a move which he said made him very happy. Tuol Kok is well-known for having one of the largest brothel districts in Phnom Penh.

“This the government’s efforts to strengthen the security of the city,” he said.

One Ministry of Interior official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Sunday that the Ministry of Interior also recently formed a 20-member committee made up of National Police Director General Hok Lundy, National Commander for Operations for the military police Sao Sokha and Phnom Penh municipal police commissioners to oversee security for the Asean Summit.


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