Minister of Interior Sar Sokha has reiterated the need for the National Police Force to perform their duties diligently and professionally to ensure public order and social security, and demanded they serve the people with “loyalty”.

In a May 12 statement published ahead of the May 16 commemorations of the 79th anniversary of the establishment of the Cambodian National Police, he noted that the world is currently facing challenges of geopolitical rivalries, military superiority competition, war, ethnic conflicts and an increasing trend of transnational crimes, with the Kingdom unable to overlook these negative influences.

“Some global unresolved issues concerning security and social order may result in unpredictable risks appearing in the future,” it said.

“As such, the police must continue to remain vigilant and strive to perform their duties with a professional conscience,” it added.

The minister hoped and believed that all police officers will continue to develop themselves to achieve their historic mission, describing them as “service providers to the people” and “strong supporters of the development of the country in all fields and all circumstances”.

A series of recent incidents have highlighted the risks taken by the Kingdom’s police officers, with suspects engaging in a shootout with police in Phnom Penh on the night of May 7. The May 10 bust of a Chinese national in Sihanoukville led to the seizure of three handguns, three rifles and a hand grenade, according to local media. This suggests that criminals are increasingly well-armed.

When he took office in August last year, Prime Minister Hun Manet pledged to place public order as one of his top priority areas. This included a policy of “cleaning house”, by ordering all police and military personnel to undergo drug testing.

The policy has since been extended to include all civil servants, at the national and sub-national levels.

As of the end of March, more than 230 police officers had been fired or demoted for their involvement with drugs, or other serious violations of the disciplinary code, Ministry of Interior spokesperson Touch Sokhak said at the time.

“Since the new government was born, over 160 officials from within the National Police and General Department of Prisons [GDI] have been dismissed for testing positive for drugs,” he added.

“Over 50 officials from the National Police and GDI have been dismissed for general violations of discipline. In addition, more than 20 officials from these two entities have been demoted,” he explained.

Sokha noted that in 2023 and early 2024, while global security challenges were complex and had a negative impact on many countries, both inside and outside the region, Cambodia had been able to maintain peace, independence, national sovereignty, territorial integrity and internal stability.

He added that these provide Cambodia with a strong foundation for sustainable development and prosperity, promote national honour and prestige on the international stage and reflect ownership of strengthening security, democracy and the rule of law in Cambodia.

Sokha praised the “tireless, willing and patriotic” efforts of the police to effectively enforce the laws, regulations, and principles which were introduced by the government.

Yang Poeu, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia (RAC), believed that the National Police should work conscientiously and professionally.

He noted that misconduct or exploitation by any police officer is an individual matter, but affects the interests of the public, leading people to think that this is the fault of the government.

“The perpetrators are pursuing personal gain, but their actions affect the government.  I think Sokha’s statement is positive, but he needs to ensure that its implementation is conscientious and professional and that people’s complaints about the police’s service provision are investigated,” he said.

“We should listen to the people, and treat their messages as inputs for the improvement of the provision of services from the police force. This is crucial for a harmonious society,” he told The Post on May 13.