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Abuse of licence plates not restricted to RCAF

Abuse of licence plates not restricted to RCAF

Dear Editor,

The government is cracking down on cars with unauthorised police and military number plates.

But around 8:30am, everyone can see Mercedeses with government plates driving the opposite way on Monivong Boulevard towards the Council of Ministers building. Why do cars with government plates insist on driving in the opposite lane during rush-hour traffic, as if they were an emergency vehicle like an ambulance or firetruck?     

One day on the weekend, I heard motorcade sirens behind me, and all the drivers were forced to pull over to the side of the road to allow these few cars to pass easily. When I drove outside of the town in the same direction of these convoys, around 30 minutes later I saw these cars parked in the front of their farms.

I asked myself why are these people using state vehicles just to visit their farms? Prime Mister Hun Sen has already warned against such convoys, but his warnings were not effective. I hope he will again warn against such loud motorcades.

Now, let's turn to vehicles driving with ONU, OI and NGO plates. Outside of working hours, I sometimes see these vehicles used by expatriates and Cambodian senior staff as private vehicles, parked in the front of nightclubs, visiting family in the countryside or simply cruising in the streets. It doesn't seem to matter whether the drivers are authorised to use these vehicles as personal transportation.

Let me share a lesson learned by a senior NGO staff members who was not authorised to the organisation's vehicle outside of working hours.

In mid-2006, an NGO vehicle crashed into another in a province while not being used for work. Both vehicles were badly damaged and the senior NGO staff member and his colleague were severely hurt. The senior staff member resigned and paid nothing to the organisation. But, coincidently, the accident occurred during a period of program evaluation. A few months later, the program funding was cut by the donors and nearly 200 staff members lost their jobs.

I do not think expatriate or Cambodian NGO staff members should use vehicles with ONU, OI or NGO plates if they are not authorised to do so outside of work. It Affects not only themselves, but also other staff members who might lose their jobs due to the actions of a handful of people.                    

Tong Soprach

Phnom Penh

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