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General to officers: No more military plates on personal vehicles

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Cars with RCAF number and police number plates park in a parking lot in Phnom Penh in August. Heng Chivoan

General to officers: No more military plates on personal vehicles

Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) Commander-in-Chief General Vong Pisen has instructed all RCAF units to cease the practice of requesting RCAF number plates, cards or insignia for use on private vehicles.

In a letter dated September 14, Pisen also told all military personnel to convert any right-hand drive vehicles they own to left-hand ones and pay any unpaid import taxes after consulting the customs department.

Pisen said RCAF subordinate units have to strictly abide by the RCAF’s general statute and the sub-decree on general discipline and respect the hierarchy of the armed forces while upholding the rule of law and Constitution, not only when performing their duties and responsibilities but also in their capacity as private citizens as well.

“Urgently educate lower-level soldiers to understand the difficulties the government is having with the national budget during the Covid-19 crisis and share this burden. They should dare to sacrifice everything for the motherland and maintain absolute loyalty to the government,” he wrote.

Pisen also reiterated the prohibition on the unauthorised use of vehicles with RCAF number plates and the transferring or rental of RCAF vehicles with RCAF licence plates to others, warning that anyone caught violating these rules will be punished according to the law.

Pech Pisey, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, said the armed forces licence plates should only be used on state vehicles and not on private ones because it often leads to confusion and fear among the general public.

“Sometimes the vehicle is a privately owned one with RCAF plates and they use it publicly on the road to make people afraid of them and intimidate them because they see the licence plate and are confused, thinking that it’s someone from the military on official duty when in fact they are on the road as normal citizens.

“Even more concerning, sometimes family members or children of [armed forces members] also use the vehicle and feel they can act with impunity while driving it. This causes public concern and confusion,” he said.

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