A Sunday post on the National Police Facebook page that was removed yesterday uncharacteristically criticised Ratanakkiri officials for allegedly allowing “mountains” of trash to build up at a Banlung market, and even accused the market owner of taking vendor fees that were banned.
The post, written like a news article, showed three photos of large piles of garbage outside a market in the provincial capital of Banlung, and questioned the province’s commitment to the government’s tourism campaign called “Clean City, Good Service”.
“The word ‘Clean City, Good Service’ is just a slogan to the Ratanakkiri provincial authority, because a mound of smelly garbage in front of the market continues to [grow] like a mountain,” the post reads.
It went on to say that the garbage had been accumulating in a public park since March, and accused provincial authorities of failing to follow through on promises to clean it up.
In the article, Banlung town Governor Ngin Nel said the city was attempting to resolve the trash situation. When reached yesterday, he said he was too busy to comment on the National Police post.
The article also took aim at local businessman Sa Leang, who runs the market, alleging that he was collecting fees from small vendors outside, a practice outlawed by Prime Minister Hun Sen last year.
While Leang could not be reached yesterday, he is quoted in the police article refuting the allegations, claiming he had stopped taking such fees even before the premier’s directive.
Ath Buny, director of the National Police website, claimed he was unaware of the post and refused to comment on the story. Minutes later it had been deleted from the page.
He could not be reached after the removal of the post.
The National Police have in the past published, and then removed, similarly critical posts, mostly on illegal logging. A May 2017 report alleging that tycoon Kith Meng’s Royal Group was colluding with loggers to launder timber from the Lower Sesan II dam site was abruptly removed.
Ratanakkiri Deputy Governor Nhem Sam Oeun yesterday admitted that the city was having a “headache” with the trash collection firm Khem Chhror, which had been contracted by market owner Leang’s Heng Dara Company.
“They are accusing one another. We already questioned many times [on this issue]. It is really difficult,” he said.
He added that the local government was investigating claims about vendor fees, but that Heng Dara Company had denied the accusations.
“If they take it, they will get in trouble,” Sam Oeun said, adding that vendors should file an official complaint.