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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Foreigners fear overstay fines as visa renewals put on hold

Foreigners fear overstay fines as visa renewals put on hold

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

Hok Lundy's death creates logistical nightmare for visitors, expatriates who relied on his signature from passport office

Photo by:
HENG CHIVOAN

Mourners at a memorial service for Hok Lundy in Phnom Penh on November 10. 

FOREIGNERS say they are racking up hefty overstay fines following the death of the visa office's previous boss, police chief Hok Lundy.  

While Cambodia's recently deceased top cop was most closely associated with the police force, he also presided over a number of cash-making government offices.

Tep Sovann, deputy director of the Passport Department in the Ministry of Interior, said his agency would remain closed until it received new orders from the top levels of government.

"At the moment, I don't know whether or not there will be charges for overstay because we have not received any orders," he said. "Before we do anything, we must wait until we receive new word."

In the meantime, foreigners are worried they will pay for an administrative gaffe they can't control.

"I am already facing a fine of more than 31 days, and (there's) no end in sight," said Belgian Tom Windelinckx, who has taught English in Phnom Penh for more than two years.

As a rule, foreigners must pay US$6 for every day their visa is expired.

The visa office has refused to process any outstanding visas in its possession, according to Phnom Penh's Lucky Lucky motorbike shop, which said more than 2,000 of its customers are affected by the problem.

The owner of Ana Travel in Sihanoukville, Briton Mick Spencer, railed against the government, saying: "This is a totally corrupt practice that we can do nothing about".

"Even though the visa office has been closed for 10 days and it has not been possible to apply for visa over this period, we (foreigners) will still have to pay."

His wife and co-owner, Cambodian Ana Spencer, was suspicious of government officials' motives in the delay.

"They want to make more money from the overstay fines; it's just another chance to  get money."

Affected foreigners and travel agents are hoping the problem will soon end, with a new National Police chief, Neth Savoeun, having been sworn in on Friday. 

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