Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Unauthorised military jackets cause furore during Water Festival



Unauthorised military jackets cause furore during Water Festival

An army jacket not authorised for sale to the public hangs on display at a roadside clothing shop yesterday in Phnom Penh.
An army jacket not authorised for sale to the public hangs on display at a roadside clothing shop yesterday in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

Unauthorised military jackets cause furore during Water Festival

Street vendor Seoung Panha said yesterday that selling black jackets emblazoned with the words “POLICE” and “ARMY” had generated good business for him while it lasted.

But after more than 300 civilians were busted over the course of the Water Festival for sporting the jackets – which police confiscated – the boom times appear to have come to an end. Several vendors at Teuk Thla Market and street shop vendors on Street 217 near Veng Sreng Boulevard yesterday said local authorities paid them a visit on Saturday to warn them to stop selling such jackets – albeit half-heartedly in some cases.

Teuk Thla Market has long been a clearinghouse where officials and civilians alike can easily get their hands on anything related to the police and military, such as uniforms, footwear and various pieces of equipment. The market has thrived in plain sight for years, despite the fact that it’s illegal to sell such material to civilians.

Indeed, even after the weekend’s warning, Panha said he will still sell the last three jackets that he has left, noting that they’ve become a trend among youngsters. What’s more, he added, the authorities who take a daily 1,000-riel bribe from him only asked that he “hide them”.

Panha began to sell the jackets, which he attained from a trader, about a month ago. He has sold around 100 for $7 to $7.50 each. He said the jackets are very popular among teens, with sales seeming to take off exponentially among trend-chasing youths eager to keep up with their peers. “That’s how they became very popular,” he said yesterday afternoon. “It’s really good business.”

Chhay Kim Khouen, chief of staff at the National Police, yesterday said anywhere between 330 to 340 festival-goers were arrested during the last two days of the Water Festival for wearing the police and army jackets.

“We didn’t see them wearing these jackets during the first day of the festival, but we saw them on the second day and on the last day of the festival,” he said. “All of them were released after being educated and told not to wear [the jackets] again.”

Kim Khouen declined to comment on what action might be taken against vendors selling such products, and referred questions to Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief Choun Sovann. Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Khoung Sreng declined to comment and also referred questions to Sovann, who couldn’t be reached for comment yesterday.

Sopha Rath, a vendor at Teuk Thla Market, said district authorities on Saturday went around the market informing vendors to stop selling the jackets.

“It’s a hot issue,” he said of the jackets. However, authorities “don’t have a problem with [vendors] selling military uniforms”.

Rath said military officers only get two uniforms per year, which is not enough, so they go to the market to buy extras. However, he admitted that vendors don’t ask their clients for proof of their positions before selling them police- or military-related items.

Rath maintained his business didn’t carry any of the offending jackets, and said that district authorities were going to conduct a follow-up inspection today at Teuk Thla – a possible explanation for the scarcity of jackets on display yesterday.

However, Sok Makara, a vendor on Street 217 near Veng Sreng Boulevard, said he began to sell the jackets right before Pchum Ben after getting them from a vendor at Teuk Thla. “When I went there to buy them, all the shops had them,” he said.

“They have everything at that market.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Businesses in capital told to get travel permit amid lockdown through One Window Service

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has issued guidelines on how to get travel permission for priority groups during the lockdown of Phnom Penh, directing private institutions to apply through the municipality's One Window Service and limit their staff to a mere two per cent. In

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and