Six police officials in Kampong Thom province have sent a letter to Interior Minister Sar Kheng accusing the provincial police chief and two others of selling promotions, a charge the chief denied yesterday while promising to “hurt them back” for what he characterised as an effort to oust him from his post.
In a letter dated February 3, the six officials requested that provincial police chief Chou Sam On – along with deputy in charge of human resources Ith Kim Sron and provincial security chief Colonel Khieu Channy – be transferred for having “a conspiracy and collect[ing] money through promotions and recruiting new police”.
The six thumb-printed the letter, though only the names of Keng Vanny and Khun Neang Meng were written legibly. Their titles were not included, and contact information for the six could not be obtained yesterday.
The letter goes on to allege that securing a position as a police officer in the first place costs between $5,000 and $7,000, and to be promoted to deputy district police chief or commune police chief once on the force costs between $2,000 and $3,000.
Lower-level positions were cheaper, with a bureau chief, deputy bureau chief and deputy commune police chief positions costing between $500 and $1,000. The letter specifically identifies 12 allegedly corrupt promotions.
Deputy Choeng Doeun commune police chief Kuy Chanthorn, who was accused in the letter of paying $1,500 in anticipation of a promotion to commune police chief, denied the allegation yesterday, saying he did “not have the money to pay, and I do not know about” any pending promotion.
One commune police chief, however, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said yesterday that he too suspected foul play in promotions in the province, claiming he was transferred after his deputy paid a bribe to take his position.
“If they replace a commune police chief with a commune police chief, I am not angry, but when they promote the deputy, I get angry because it shows I made a mistake,” he said, without offering proof of the allegation.
Provincial police chief Sam On, meanwhile, maintained the letter was the work of “negative people”. “Brother, do you believe them? And I will prepare plan to hurt them back … and they will be punished,” he said.
Sam On defended the 12 promotions described in the letter, saying “they were good people and they have worked for so long; some of them were sons or nephews of leaders” noting one had been the son of a senior National Assembly official.
Without addressing the appearance of nepotism, he added, “How can I take money from them?” “Many people want my position,” he continued. “They wanted me to fall down before retirement.”
Sam On promised to investigate the six complainants, and said he believed “there are only one or two people behind this, and they are deputy provincial chiefs”.Colonel Channy declined to comment, and Ith Kim Sron was not reachable.
Preap Kol, director of Transparency International Cambodia, said yesterday that the claims should be taken seriously until proven otherwise.
“It would be legally appropriate to also file an official complaint to the Anti-Corruption Unit [ACU],” he said via email.
“Both the Ministry of Interior and the ACU should conduct independent investigations; if the provincial police chief and deputies are found guilty of paying or receiving bribes, they must be punished according to the laws.”