Interior Minister Sar Kheng and ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak yesterday took a yearly meeting on national crime rates as an opportunity to lavish praise on the Kingdom’s security forces for preventing protests and arresting people on what are widely considered political grounds.
Delivering opening remarks, Interior Minister Sar Kheng applauded law enforcement for creating “good conditions that make a fruitful atmosphere for economic and social development and strengthen democracy and rule of law in Cambodia” in 2015.
“National security has been strengthened,” Kheng said, noting reductions in cross-border crimes. However, he added, peace at the borders could be attributed to the “timely prevention of actions intended to make chaos in society”, an apparent veiled reference to the contentious border-demarcation politics of the Cambodia National Rescue Party.
“Demonstrations and strikes have been reduced … [and] solved peacefully,” he said.
Speaking after the minister, Sopheak said “it is a good thing” that demonstrations and strikes fell by 35 per cent from 2,634 in 2014 to 1,509 in 2015, claiming that there were only two cases of violence at demonstrations in 2015 – referring to the two opposition lawmakers brutally beaten outside the National Assembly after an anti-CNRP rally in which police did not intervene.
Sopheak went on to praise the effectiveness of police for having “arrested 11 suspects who had used violence at the Freedom Park [demonstrations] in 2014, and arrested one person for faking a border treaty, and arrested a person who incited to cause colour revolution”, referring to the internationally criticised arrests of CNRP activists, Senator Hong Sok Hour and a university student who posted on Facebook.
“And we are seeking to arrest [self-exiled opposition leader] Mr Sam Rainsy for defamation,” he added.
The ministry spokesman, without naming the opposition party, said “there is that party that considers its strategy to make a colour revolution”, before rattling off other countries that have had “colour revolutions” – naming Tunisia, Egypt and Libya – and are “not safe”.
In his earlier remarks, Sar Kheng also congratulated the authorities on the overall drop in crime, noting the increase in “all kinds of crackdowns”.
According to a report released at yesterday’s conference, in 2015, the total number of reported criminal offences fell by about 4 per cent, to 2,709. Petty theft remained more or less steady at around 1,100 cases.
Although misdemeanours were down, the number of felonies went up, from 716 to 751, which can be attributed to an increase in aggravated robberies (up to 279 from 251) and rapes (253 cases, up from 226).
“We still face challenges, including armed robbery, which is rearing its head again recently, and murder,” Kheng said.