Minister of Interior Sar Kheng has advised authorities in the capital and provinces to be attentive to solving the problems and addressing the concerns of the citizenry in their respective territories.

With commune elections one year away, Sar Kheng said, politicians may use any unsolved problems or disputes to build their own popularity and support at the expense of the current government.

He made the remarks as he presided over the induction ceremony for Sun Sovanrith as governor of Kampong Chhnang province, who replaced previous governor Chhour Chandoeun on July 1.

Sar Kheng said authorities must continue to maintain and strengthen peace, political stability, security and public order to create an atmosphere that is conducive to national development across all sectors.

He said authorities at all levels have to act in a timely manner to prevent the spread of fake news and public disorder – especially maintaining vigilance against any activity that could involve an attempt to overthrow the government.

“Authorities have to take control, solve disputes and respond to protests using peaceful means based on legal principles and they must avoid violence in all forms,” he said.

“With commune elections one year away, there are always a lot of politicians who will use various challenges, problems, inactions and disputes to try to attract grassroots supporters and build their popularity to gain votes for their parties,” he added.

He advised the unified command committees in the capital and provinces to educate, instruct and explain to people about mobilisation, false news and other activities that have the potential to incite violence in society.

Sar Kheng said they have to educate the people to respect laws, protect the public interest and the community interest and to avoid engaging in activities that are against the law or negatively affecting peace and political stability.

“Our authorities and police must take care from now onwards to control the situation and solve problems diligently without underestimating them,” he said.

At the same time, Sar Kheng said the authorities should not wrongly regard those who raise these problems as “the opposition” and should instead closely examine the substance of the problems being raised in order to help solve them whenever possible.

Cambodian Institute for Democracy president Pa Chanroeun hailed the interior minister’s guidance.

“This is good advice that requires the armed forces and civil servants in Phnom Penh and the provinces to respect the civil servant statutes that differentiate the roles played by officials of a political party from the roles played by officials of a government that is serving the people,” he said.