An elderly man was briefly arrested and detained on Monday for selling slingshots during the Water Festival celebration in the capital, an act police termed a threat to “social stability”.
Phnom Penh deputy police chief Song Ly said that 70-year-old Nuon Samon had ridden his bicycle – loaded with a box of homemade tools including slingshots, machetes, axes, scissors and saws – from Kratie’s Sambor district to the capital on the first day of the festival to sell the weapons, but was arrested the next day and detained for about an hour before he was released.
“Authorities freed him and returned him his stuff, except the 22 slingshots,” Ly said.
Samon allegedly told police that he “did not know selling slingshots in the city is illegal”, and while Ly agreed there was no law against it, he said the slingshots were taken to “ensure social stability and security”.
However, the government itself has been accused of using slingshots to disrupt social order. In 2013 dozens of thugs descended on a peaceful vigil at Wat Phnom, attacking attendees with slingshots and electric batons in an assault that bore the hallmarks of government orchestration.
Cambodia Center for Human Rights advocacy director Duch Piseth pointed out the seeming contradiction saying authorities “judge other people by their bad actions while they judge themselves by their good intentions”.