Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Act now or lose all credibility



Act now or lose all credibility

Act now or lose all credibility

What is going on? Since the election there has been a spate of armed robberies on

the property of the international community not to mention the theft of UNTAC equipment

awaiting shipment overseas.

In many cases there has been a strong suggestion of complicity and of connivance

at high levels of either government or the military. One recent incident is particularly

disturbing.

On Dec. 7, while traveling from Siem Reap to Sisophon in a Toyota Land cruiser, three

senior officials of UNHCR were suddenly stopped by a man wearing a uniform and carrying

a B-40 rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

This happened just before crossing a normally-guarded bridge. When the car stopped

three other men in civilian clothes came out of the bush armed with AK-47s.

The men were extremely aggressive and threatening with their weapons.

They ordered the three and their driver out of the car and then herded them towards

a ditch. Meanwhile, two of the robbers drove the car off in the direction of Sisophon.

The others kept shouting and motioning the three UNHCR men to get off the road and

into the ditch.

They understandably refused having seen that the driver, who did so, was roughed

up and his valuables taken.

Fearing worse to come, the three decided to run for their lives up the road. Except

for a single shot, they were not pursued and finally arrived in Sisophon to report

the theft of the vehicle as well as passports, credit cards, etc.

The matter was taken up personally by Serge Ducasse, UNHCR head of mission, and an

official letter urging action, both to recover the car and arrest the culprits, was

sent to H.E. Sar Kheng, deputy prime minister and minister of interior.

There events might have stayed. However, the vehicle was seen by the driver the next

day in Battambang without a license plate.

As the authorities were being alerted, the car was driven away.

A short while later the vehicle was seen again with a new registration plate: 3423

in white letters on the red background usually reserved for the army.

The Toyota was eventually tracked down in Krakor district where it had been stripped.

The three people in the car - not those involved in the original armed robbery -

were arrested and taken to Pursat police station.

The circumstantial evidence for military conspiracy is extremely strong: All the

bridges in the area are now guarded by soldiers; the UNHCR people noted that the

bridge where the incident took place was the only one to be bereft of guards. Next,

the car having the conspicuous military number plate.

The international community, seriously disturbed by the implications of the affair,

will watch how the government treats the incident.

On several recent occasions, heads of international agencies have expressed concern

about the security situation and its relation to the speed of disbursement of foreign

assistance for development.

Cambodia and its tragic past have engendered a considerable amount of sympathy for

the country in the outside world.

If the government does not take sufficient steps to meet the concern of the international

community working in the country, if it does not give a clear indication that it

will restore confidence, then Cambodia will run the risk of losing the interest of

many outside donors.

More importantly, all countries have an independent security grading for foreign

investment purposes.

Cambodia desperately needs foreign investment. But if the government cannot keep

its own house in order, if it cannot resolve an obvious power struggle between civilian

ministries and military, then it will only have itself to blame if outsiders draw

their own conclusions.

Cambodia should remember the world does not owe it a living.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • Cambodia to make auto-rickshaws

    Locally-assembled electric auto-rickshaws could hit the Cambodian market as soon as early in May after the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) gave the greenlight to an investment project at the weekend. According to a CDC press release, it will issue a final registration