Minister of Interior Sar Kheng reminded the Stung Treng provincial authorities to strengthen political stability, security and public order in the province by following the principle underlying the safe village-commune policy.

If the local communities at the village and commune level have no security or stability, then neither will the district, province or the nation itself ultimately, he said.

Sar Kheng made the remarks while presiding over the appointment of former Mondulkiri governor Svay Sam Eang to his position as the new governor of Stung Treng on October 2. Sam Eang replaced Mom Saroeun, who has been made undersecretary of state at the interior ministry.

“I want to emphasise the strengthening of political security and public order because this issue is still important and we cannot be careless. It is the foundation upon which the other sectors can build. If our country has no security, peace and stability, then all development will be hindered,” Sar Kheng said.

Citing reports from former governor Saroeun, the minister said the problems that Stung Treng is still facing are a lack of public infrastructure, high poverty rate, inadequate public services, especially in the health sector, and limited human labour resources.

Some of those Stung Treng human resources are lost to migration or illegal drugs and other criminal activities, all of which are related to the opportunity and temptation that the proximity to the border with Thailand and Laos can represent for many Cambodians.

According to Sar Kheng, Stung Treng province is a major smuggling route for drug importation from Laos and has frequently been the target of clampdown by provincial forces in cooperation with the national-level authorities.

The safe village-commune policy consists of good public services available, traffic accidents at or below the national average, no human or drug trafficking, gang or organised crime activities, maintaining a safe and clean environment, and training authorities to respond in a timely manner to all issues including outbreaks of contagious diseases.

“Therefore, I suggest that this policy promoting safe villages and communes be disseminated and enforced widely. Only then can we effectively maintain safety and security as well as serve all of our people, “ he said.