In the Phnom Penh Post, issue of 6 -19 September, 1996, the article on "Illegal
passport trade 'threatens security'," at some point misquotes me, and is a little
bit unfair to me, hence putting me in an uneasy position. Therefore, I wish to make
the things clear as follows:
As far as the competence to issue Cambodian passports is concerned, I just mentioned
a. the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues only official and diplomatic passports
to the government officials and high personalities of Cambodia at official request
of the state institution concerned;
b. the Ministry of Interior issues ordinary passports to Cambodian citizens. The
MOI sets up procedural and other substantive requirements for the passport application
such as: application forms, IDs and family bood types; face-to-face interviews; photos.
I further said that the high-ranking officials of the MOI may waive the face-to-face
interview requirements for those Cambodian citizens who are unable to come in person,
due to valid reason. I did not remember stating about "loopholes exist[ing]
at the MOI...."
I did not specifically criticise the MOI for slow replies. I only talked about the
delay caused by bureaucracy in the country.
Mention was only made that the lack of prompt reply to the complaints or requests
of foreign competent authorities made us lose a precious chance to ask for their
assistance in confiscating and apprehending the holders of the illegal passports
which should have been crucial to the case, because they could not detain the documents
of suspected figures longer than allowed by laws and without valid ground.
- Pech Sokhem, Official of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.