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Bazaar boot camp: military rank easy as a trip to market

Bazaar boot camp: military rank easy as a trip to market

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A vendor sells military apparel at a clothing stall at Teuk Thla market in Phnom Penh yesterday.

The military uniform that cost Australian-Cambodian returnee Tim Kimsuth two years of his life and US$500 cost him a mere $30 at the Teuk Thla Market, in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district.

Tim Kimsuth had purchased Royal Cambodian Armed Forces two-star general shoulder pads and a military uniform he had embroidered with his name at the Teuk Thla Market because he “liked the uniform”.

“I had worn it in my room only and was not aware that wearing military uniforms and ranks is illegal,” Tim Kimsuth told the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday at this sentencing.

Tim Kimsuth, who spent 20 years in Australia and has only recently returned to Cambodia, had reason to be confused.

Theuk Thla Market has about 50 stalls selling various police and military uniforms as well as a variety of general ranks. The market even offers while-you-wait embroidery of uniforms.
A set of police clothes sells for between US$8 and $9, but military general uniforms go for as much as $50.

“Police who have a low position sell their uniforms here because they don’t get paid enough money and they need extra to send home to their wives and children,” one vendor told the Post yesterday.

Many sellers said artillery and various automatic weapons were still secretly dealt at the market. “Sometimes, if there is something in the press, police will come and confiscate all the uniforms being sold,” another vendor said.

“They tell us it is illegal to sell them, so they take everything – we have lost a lot of money from this before.”

National Police spokesman Kirt Chantharith said there was still legal uncertainty relating to the selling of uniforms.

“There is no clear law about this,” he said.

“But police are given only two sets of uniforms a year. For an official that works out in the sun or in the forest every day, it’s not enough, and they need to go to the shop to buy more.”

Kirt Chantharith said the police minister had been in negotiations with the finance ministry to get extra funding for officers’ uniforms.

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