Daun Penh District Governor Kouch Chamroeun will be transferred to the Ministry of Interior, with his deputy, Sok Penh Vuth, who heads the district’s notorious security guards, set to take over the reins of the district administration.
The decisions, which were issued in two separate sub-decrees last week, will see Chamroeun take over as deputy chief of the Interior Ministry’s administration department. Penh Vuth, who has been frequently criticised for using the district’s extra-judicial security guards to crackdown on protesters, will be promoted as Daun Penh’s new governor.
“As a civil servant, it is a very happy [occasion] to be promoted,” Chamroeun said yesterday.
The Daun Penh security guards have often used violence to break up peaceful protests and marches that pass through the district. In October, the extra-judicial force beat up five people who were participating in a march to mark World Habitat Day, including an observer from human rights group Licadho.
City Hall spokesman Mean Chanyada defended Penh Vuth’s promotion, saying his use of security guards in the past was only to maintain safety in the district. “Therefore, it does not mean that because he cracks down on protesters, we have promoted him as governor – it is not like that,” Chanyada said.
Sia Phearum, head of land rights group Housing Rights Task Force, said Penh Vuth’s promotion would send the wrong message to residents, who were already unhappy with his past actions. “The problem is why the ruling party needs to promote an official who has used violence,” he said. “They should promote officials who are liked and inspire people.”