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Lack of helmets at rallies

Campaigners participating in a CPP campaign rally seen riding their motorbikes without helmets yesterday in Phnom Penh.
Campaigners participating in a CPP campaign rally seen riding their motorbikes without helmets yesterday in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

Lack of helmets at rallies

Only a small minority of those taking part in the first two days of the campaign for the commune elections wore helmets, traffic safety campaigners said yesterday, calling for police to clarify whether the law still applies.

Road Safety Institute Director Ear Chariya said that he believed about 80 percent of people who campaigned through the city had done so without wearing a helmet. “The traffic law at the moment does not exempt election campaigners who ride on a motorbike without a helmet,” he said.

Run Rothvesna, director of the public order and traffic department at the National Police, said that it was unreasonable to ask the police to try to stop and fine thousands of people taking part in campaigning.

“Driving without a helmet is illegal, but we cannot fine them during rallies, in which tens of thousands of people participate,” he said. The campaign started Saturday and runs for two weeks ahead of the June 4 vote.

Rothvesna said few people taking part in the rallies over the weekend without helmets had experienced any danger. “No one died in traffic accidents,” he said.

Yet National Committee for Land Traffic Safety Secretary-General Hoem Yan said that all parties should respect the Ministry of Interior’s announcements calling for people to respect the law during the election campaign.

Opposition spokesman Yim Sovann said that he also was not concerned about potential injuries and did not believe his party had any responsibility to ensure those who attend its rallies on motorbikes wore helmets.

“We go slowly and carefully. The rallies are a very special case,” Sovann said, noting that the roads used for marches were closed off to ensure the the marches were orderly. A spokesperson for the CPP could not be reached for comment.

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