Following an instruction by Prime Minister Hun Manet, National Police chief Sar Thet has stripped a commune police chief in Kampong Thom province’s Stoung district of his rank. The officer was reportedly convicted and given a prison sentence for robbery in the past.

Samprorch commune police chief Hong Sarom was demoted on September 11, the day after the prime minister was informed of irregularities concerning his promotion.

“It has been decided to demote commune police chief Sarom. He will now serve as a Chief Corporal,” said an official letter from Thet.

“The reason is: violation of the discipline of the National Police,” it added.

Chief Corporal is the lowest rank in the police force.

On September 10, Manet ordered Thet to investigate the Sarom’s promotion.

Manet explained that he had received information from several sources, including social media, about the questionable background of the commune police chief.

“I issued an order to the national police chief asking him to work with Men Ly, Kampong Thom provincial police chief, to conduct an immediate investigation. If the accusations are true, he [Sarom] needs to be removed from his post at once,” he said.

He expanded his instructions to require thorough inspections and evaluations of the background of any individual who was being considered for promotion in any government institution, whether civil or the armed forces

Government spokesman Pen Bona explained that as the head of the government, Manet requires lower-level officials to respect proper appointment procedures.

“He has the authority to order an investigation in the event of any suspected irregularities with a promotion. The prime minister is also working very hard to reform the civil servant recruitment examinations, as he wants to ensure that only the most suitable applicants are selected,” he said.

According to Bona, the case in Kampong Thom province serves as a reminder for all sub-national officials to be very careful, because nothing can be hidden from the prime minister.

According to local media outlet Fresh News, Heng Sarom was involved in the robbery of a gold stall in Stoung Market in 2015. He was reported to have received a large amount of gold and cash for his part.

Sarom was charged with conspiracy to robbery and sentenced to five years in prison, added a report by the Koh Santepheap Daily.

Residents of the province praised Manet’s decisive response to the matter.

“I would like to express my full support for the prime minister’s swift action in ordering a full investigation of the circumstances of the promotion of a man who is accused of having a criminal record,” said one member of the public, via social media.