Sirivudh Supports Transferring Police to PM

Funcinpec’s co-Minister of Interior Prince Norodom Siri­vudh said he was open to a proposal that would remove the National Police from his ministry’s control in favor of creating an independent force answerable only to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The proposal, raised by Funcin­pec and National Assembly Pres­ident Prince Norodom Ran­ariddh last week, would resemble the administrative model of Thailand’s national police force, which an­swers directly to its prime minister, Prince Sirivudh said Thursday.

“I don’t have anything against this,” he said, adding that it was up to Hun Sen and Prince Rana­riddh to consider.

“For me, I think it’s not a bad idea at all for the two options” of following the Thai model or keeping the Nat­ional Police under the Ministry, he said.

Last week, government spokes­­­man Khieu Kanharith said the plan to create an independent police force was “impossible,” as it would leave the Min­istry powerless and would not help de-politicize the force as Prince Ranariddh proposed. He declined to comment on the subject on Friday.

Interior Ministry officials have been reluctant to discuss the issue. Throughout the week, re­peated calls to Prince Sirivudh’s CPP counterpart, co-Minister Sar Kheng, have been unsuccessful.

The ministry’s secretaries of state Nuth Sa An and Kong Hun Thearith, as well as its spokes­man Khieu Sopheak, declined to comment last week. Phone calls placed to Hok Lundy, director general of the National Police, throughout the week have been unsuccessful.

Thun Saray, director of the rights group Adhoc, said Sunday he was puzzled by Prince Ran­ariddh’s proposal and questioned how putting the police under Hun Sen’s direct control would make it less susceptible to pol­it­ical influence. While he agreed the police must be nonpartisan, “it’s contradictory” to make it answerable to only Hun Sen, he said.

Thun Saray added that power struggles between the police and civil administration remain an issue, and expressed concern whether police and political leaders had the public’s interest in mind.“I think the police want to be independent from civil administration…to have more power,” he said. “The problem is more power for the people or more power for their group?”

Prince Sirivudh said he was in favor a broad decentralization of tasks handled by his Ministry. “The National Police is one issue,” he said. “We talk about decentralizing all forms of public administration.”

(Ad­dition­al reporting by Van Roeun)

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