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Poipet customs director removed in riot’s wake

Rocks litter the ground at the Poipet Customs Department, where dozens of car and building windows were broken by protesters in May.
Rocks litter the ground at the Poipet Customs Department, where dozens of car and building windows were broken by protesters in May. Photo supplied

Poipet customs director removed in riot’s wake

Banteay Meanchey provincial authorities yesterday promoted a new director of Provincial Customs and Excise to replace his predecessor, seven months after an office under his jurisdiction was at the centre of a riot.

Thorng Phosokhamphu, the previous customs director, was transferred to Kampong Thom province. His replacement, Chher Sophea, the Oddar Meanchey provincial director of customs and excise, was tapped to replace him.

Phosokhamphu was in charge during a demonstration by porters against customs officers at the Poipet office in May that turned violent and left four people injured. The protesters said that import taxes and unofficial fees exacted by police were cutting into their livelihoods.

But Hiv Kemheng, deputy director of the General Department of Taxation, said that Phosokhamphu’s replacement was unrelated to the riots.

“It is a normal change in the state’s working system,” he said.

However, Korsum Saroeuth, Banteay Meanchey provincial governor, alluded to Phosokhamphu’s shortcomings, even as he expressed his confidence in Sophea yesterday.

“I hope that the earlier inactiveness [by the customs leader], which led to the criticism from the public, will never happen again,” he said.

Phosokhamphu told customs personnel to cooperate with the new leadership, and vowed to work harder at his new position.

Separately, Hou Puthvisal, the director of Phnom Penh’s PJ Prison will be replaced today by Pich Chorn, deputy director of the General Department of Prisons at the Ministry of Interior.

Puthvisal will be transferred to work at the prison department.

Officials did not explain the replacement. Neither Puthvisal nor Chorn were available for comment.

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