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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Fake military plates targeted

A Lexus parked on the side of the road displays Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) number plates
A Lexus parked on the side of the road displays Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) number plates yesterday in Phnom Penh. Vireak Mai

Fake military plates targeted

A four-star general has written a letter to the Ministry of Economy and Finance’s General Department of Taxation asking for a review of all vehicles carrying Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) licence plates.

The request, which was made on Friday, comes from Sao Sohka, commander of the National Military Police and an RCAF deputy commander-in-chief, and is an effort to tackle an ongoing problem, though no specific incident was cited as cause for action.

“The main objective of the request for reviewing and inspecting vehicles bearing military plates was to combat the use of fake military plates in the country,” Military Police spokesman Kheng Tito said yesterday.

In the letter, Finance Ministry officials are asked to make good on their responsibility to inspect the problem and to collect taxes owed on all vehicles bearing the RCAF insignia. The Ministry of Finance and the Defence Ministry must cooperate and coordinate in order to implement laws surrounding RCAF licence plates, it says.

Operating a vehicle with fake official police or military regalia on licence plates is punishable under Cambodia’s Penal Code with one month to one year in prison and a fine of up to $500.

“The national military forces will continue to be ready to cooperate to collect tax on the vehicles bearing military plates,” the letter says.

Though fake army plates are easily and cheaply obtainable, during a discussion of the updated traffic law at the National Assembly in December, Minister of Defence Tea Banh said the allegations of RCAF licence plates being used improperly are untrue.

Among those at the National Assembly insisting that regulation of military licence places needs improvement was Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker Yim Sovann, who said that there have been repeated irregularities regarding usage of the plates.

Rights group Licadho coordinator Am Sam Ath yesterday said that according to his organisation’s research, instances of illicit use of both genuine and fake RCAF plates have been found in many parts of Cambodia and are often used to exhibit connections or carry contraband without scrutiny.

Tito said yesterday that part of the intent of Sokha’s letter is to reduce the likelihood of people using either legitimate or fake military plates for such nefarious purposes.

“It was also to combat offenses, especially those who have used military plates on their vehicles to commit illegal activities, such as transporting illegal cargo, and illegal luxury wood in the country,” Tito said.

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