Posted on 1 June 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 614
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 614
One week ago, the following observation and question was shared here in the Mirror:
“Most societies work with the concept that individuals do not have the right to break the rules or to use violence that harms others – but the state has a monopoly to enforce laws, and it is assumed that this happens regularly, as a matter of fact.
Why is it that in Cambodia, law enforcement often does not happen just simply based on an existing law, but an additional appeal or even a threat is necessary?”
Now, after the Prime Minister had pointed to the fact that important elements of the Land Traffic Law of 2007 are not being implemented, an active campaign is under way to catch violators. There is police positioned in different parts of Phnom Penh, stopping motorcycles without side mirrors, and with drivers without helmets.
I saw on Saturday how two teams of policemen with walkie-talkies, some placed at a busy intersection, and the second group placed some distance along the road, identified and caught violators of the Land Traffic Law of 2007. I observed how they caught one after the other motorcycle driver. But I observed also that a big black Landcruiser without a license place passed by slowly, and nobody cared.
Probably only if the Prime Minister would issue an order to catch big cars without license plates the traffic police would act?
But does this really help?
Two weeks ago, on 20 May 2009, we had mirrored the following headline from Rasmei Kampuchea:
“Prime Minister Warns Officials to Stop Interventions in Traffic Accidents [to release their family members, relatives, or friends, without letting the law deal with them]”
But on 26 May 2009, there was the following headline in Deum Ampil:
“A Minor Traffic Accident Leads to the Shooting of Three Bullets”
What had happened?
A luxury car collided with a motorbike with a young man and a woman. Then the man who had driven the car, pulled out his gun and shot three times in the air, but the people who had been on the motorcycle fled. The Khmer newspaper did not provide much more information, and the accident did not seem to have made it into other Khmer papers.
The English Cambodia Daily reported more on 26 May 2009:
The son of a high ranking government official shot a handgun into the air three times after his car collided with a motorbike…, though police did not arrest the shooter, according to witnesses and police officers who requested anonymity. Multiple officers declined to provide the young man’s name due to the power and influence of his father. “We are in a lower position, so we dare not touch them,” one officer said. Seng Chanthon, deputy chief of traffic offenses of the city’s traffic police department, confirmed that an accident had occurred, but he would not say whether shots were fired nor give the name of the alleged government official’s son who allegedly opened fire… Police quickly surrounded the scene, according to witnesses and police officers, but the shooter and his passengers simply left in another SUV [Sport Utility Vehicle] that arrived. The driver of the car, which had its front wheel damaged, however, retrieved his vehicle in person at the Chankar Mon discrict police station on Monday morning… According to Pen Khun, deputy municipal police chief, no official reports by police or the public have been made regarding the crash and the shooting.”
So what? How to relate the two messages of 20 May and of 26 May 2009?
The traffic police is busy following the order to implement the Land Traffic Law of 2007 – catching often simple people who have not yet bought a helmet. The message of the Prime Minister of 20 May 2009 has obviously not yet reached the traffic police – not even the higher level officials whose names are quoted above.
So what will be the next step? Or will there be none for quite some time to come?
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