Regarding the article "PM presses for bike seizures"(May 21, 2009), the police could be empowered to seize and confiscate motorbikes without side mirrors and drivers without helmets under a Land Traffic Law amendment proposed by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
At the moment, we can see that officials at police posts on our streets and boulevards don't all have their proper identity numbers or uniforms. Rather, they seem more intent on pulling over motorbikes and collecting "fines". Perhaps officials think that these "guilty" fines from motorbike drivers will enhance the national income in some positive way.
In fact, the money from these fines goes directly into the pockets of traffic police officials. Cambodians and foreigners alike who pay such fines regularly complain that officers never provide receipts for money received. Such receipts serve a number of important purposes, not least of which is preventing drivers from being cited and fined for the same "infraction" more than once each day. Any number of drivers can attest to being stopped and fined at one police post only to be pulled over again at the next and forced to pay because they have no receipt.
Another inequity committed by traffic police is their attempts to fine foreigners at a much more exorbitant rate. My foreign friends say traffic police regularly attempt to extract fines of between US$5 and $20. But Cambodia's traffic laws do not establish one rate for Cambodians and another for foreigners. All drivers, regardless of nationality, are legally obligated to pay only between 3,000 riels and 6,000 riels for motorbike infractions.
I can appreciate that traffic police officials work hard in the sun and the rain, and perhaps that is why the government provides them with certain "incentives". But the Land Traffic Law makes certain legal stipulations that are not being followed. This law, approved by the National Assembly in December 2006, has this to say in the third paragraph of Article 72:
"Traffic police officials must be punished in jail from 1 to 3 years or/and fined from 2,000,000 to 6,000,000 riels for any official who (1) forces a guilty driver to pay an incorrect fine, or (2) receives money and then issues an incorrect receipt, or fails to issue a receipt at all."
Corruption among traffic police officials leads to a loss in national revenues. Moreover, many drivers face multiple fines in a single day, while foreigners are threatened with fines many times more than the legal limit allowed under the Land Traffic Law.
Therefore, the government should take any action against this corruption, done in violation of the Land Traffic Law. Meanwhile, all drivers should be advised not to surrender their driver's licences or registration to Traffic Police officers.
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