Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Capitol drivers briefly held over leaflets



Capitol drivers briefly held over leaflets

Former Capitol Bus Company drivers demonstrate outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court late last month to protest the continuing imprisonment of two union members.
Former Capitol Bus Company drivers demonstrate outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court late last month to protest the continuing imprisonment of two union members. Pha Lina

Capitol drivers briefly held over leaflets

Seven recently sacked drivers from the Capitol Bus company say they were detained by Chamkarmon district officials on Saturday for distributing leaflets at another company’s bus station calling on passengers not to ride their former employer’s coaches.

Forty-five Capitol drivers let go in December of last year claim their dismissal was related to union activities.

A subsequent protest by the drivers in early February was violently disrupted by tuk-tuk drivers representing the Cambodia for Confederation Development Association (CCDA), who badly beat several demonstrators and left many injured.

In the aftermath of the incident, commentators suggested that the CCDA were operating as thugs for hire funded by Capitol, among others.

Hin Moeun, a representative of the fired drivers, said he and his colleagues had travelled to KSO Bus Station (owned by a rival operator to Capitol) in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district to distribute leaflets discouraging passengers from giving Capitol or CCDA tuk-tuks their business.

While doing so, he said, they were surrounded by more than 100 people, who he claims were members of the CCDA and intent on arresting the bus drivers.

“About half an hour later, Chamkarmon security guards took us to the district hall,” Moeun said.District officials then told the drivers they had contravened city regulations by distributing leaflets without first asking permission.

Before leaving the district hall, all seven were allegedly made to sign a pledge not to hand out fliers without permission, which the drivers say they signed under duress.

“If we did not sign the pledge they wouldn’t let us out. We just did it to get ourselves out,” said Vanna Rong, one of the seven drivers.

CCDA president E Sophors described the bus drivers’ actions as “an illegal and selfish act” and insisted his colleagues were acting on their own behalf, rather than Capitol’s.

The CCDA has an agreement with Capitol to provide tuk-tuks at their stations.

“The association is preparing documents to file a complaint with the court [against the Capitol drivers] for subverting the legal business of our members,” Sophors said.

The head of administration for Chamkarmon District Hall, Tuy Bunsereirathmony, insisted the drivers’ rights were not violated on Saturday.

“I did not detain them. My security guards were there to help them and brought them to sign a pledge,” said Bunsereirathmony.

“This problem happened because they had no permission. The City Hall has a circular that requires its permission to distribute letters or petition in public places in 2015.

Legal expert Sok Sam Oeun said yesterday that there is no law requiring people wishing to distribute fliers to first obtain permission but that this has little practical meaning in Cambodia.

“From the point of view of a lawyer, if no law prohibits doing something, people are free to do that,” said Sam Oeun.

However, he added, “the government always think they can do what they want. If the law does not say clearly people are allowed to do something, the authorities feel free to stop them.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Businesses in capital told to get travel permit amid lockdown through One Window Service

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has issued guidelines on how to get travel permission for priority groups during the lockdown of Phnom Penh, directing private institutions to apply through the municipality's One Window Service and limit their staff to a mere two per cent. In

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and