Deputy National Police chief Sar Thet has clarified that traffic officers are only imposing fines on vehicles without number plates or with plates rendered illegible due to damage.

The clarification came after a TikTok user posted a video, which went viral, about traffic police officers fining motorcycle drivers 12,000 riel [$3] and more for their licence plates having stains, poor visibility, deformations or scratches – in a way that the user said confused the public and caused chaos.

Thet, who is also Phnom Penh municipal police chief, stressed that vehicles with plates which are damaged but can still be read are exempted from fines.

“We have fined drivers when the number plates have completely faded away, were broken or covered up completely. But we don’t fine people if their vehicle number plates have scars or scratches but they can still be identified with them,” he said.

Thet also said officers also impose fines on anyone caught with a vehicle bearing a fake number plate.

The Press and Quick Reaction Unit at the Council of Ministers also released a June 10 statement to provide clarity, saying the widely shared video misled the public and defamed law enforcement officers.

“This individual spread this on TikTok, saying that the police will impose fines on any vehicles with stains or scratches on their number plates. The information being spread was false and shows a lack of understanding of the road traffic laws,” it said.

The Ministry of Public Works and Transport also released a statement saying that number plates which are faded away or scratched but still legible did not require changing and that only plates that cannot be read need replacing.

“The owners of vehicles with broken number plates where the letters or numbers can’t be read or are faded away can apply to the ministry for new ones and the series and numbers are kept the same,” it said.