Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sar Kheng laments capital crime



Sar Kheng laments capital crime

People commute to work in Ho Chi Minh City in 2011
People commute to work in Ho Chi Minh City in 2011. Minister of Interior Sar Kheng said yesterday that the current state of crime in Phnom Penh resembles Ho Chi Minh City’s years ago. NGO TRUNG

Sar Kheng laments capital crime

Interior Minister Sar Kheng yesterday cast a negative light on Phnom Penh, labelling the capital a hotbed for criminal activity and likening the levels of street crime to the Ho Chi Minh City of yore, where he said it was once unsafe to walk around with a good pen in your pocket.

Speaking at an annual meeting of City Hall officials, Kheng reprimanded his subordinates for the state of crime in Cambodia’s capital.

“Phnom Penh right now is full of theft, which is similar to Ho Chi Minh City years ago,” he said.

The minister said that, in the past, when he visited Ho Chi Minh, someone warned him that if he had a good pen and put it in his pocket someone would steal it. His travel companion did not listen to the advice and by the time he returned to Cambodia, the pen was gone

“Now it is our turn. Prey Nokor [Ho Chi Minh] got rid of its problems. We do not know how they did it; now we cannot see them anymore,” because the levels of crime in the two cities are so different, he said.

“What happened in the city in Vietnam in the past, now it happens in Phnom Penh, causing heavy social insecurity,” he added.

The minister called on police forces across the city to step up their efforts to reduce the crime rate.

According to figures released by City Hall, in 2014 Phnom Penh Municipal Police dealt with 564 cases – including misdemeanours and felonies – and arrested 762 suspects.

Un Sam An, Wat Phnom commune police chief, who was at yesterday’s meeting, agreed that street crime was a big issue, but said authorities were already doing their best to address it.

“My police officials make an effort to crack down on robberies and street thefts. We had an almost 100 per cent success rate in 2014,” he claimed. “Most of the thefts happen on Cambodian people, not foreigners.”

But Kheng said that foreigners are often victims of crime, and said French nationals in particular regularly ask why they are targeted.

Statistics compiled by EU member states, based on reports of stolen passports, showed a rise in petty crime, particularly in 2013. In 2011, there were 139 stolen passports, which inched up to 190 in 2012. The next year, however, citizens of member states reported 332. Statistics for 2014 were not available.

As well as criticising the city’s police, Kheng yesterday turned his attention to the courts, which he said regularly released suspects, even if there was enough evidence to convict.

“It is damn difficult to catch them if they are released after they are caught.… [Only] if there is no evidence can they be released,” he said.

But legal expert Sok Sam Oeun said that this is just “one of many problems” within the courts.

Conversely, he said, another issue is large amounts of pre-trial detention. “If anyone is charged, they’re always detained without reason, even when the charge is very low.”

Sam Oeun added that problems with the justice system existed across the country.

“We do not know clearly if the police are weak and the court is strong, or the court is weak and the police are strong.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ALICE CUDDY

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • Pailin longan winery tries to break through to the big time

    Longan aren’t quite as glamorous as some fruits. They don’t have the star-power of mangos or generate the excitement of a pricey seasonal niche fruit like the pungent durian. Unlike bananas or oranges, which are known and loved everywhere, longan remains a decidedly

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • Debt restructuring over, time to tackle rising NPL ratio

    The Cambodian banking system has just completed a 26-month debt restructuring exercise where scores of loan accounts were revised, classified and provisioned as the rate of non-performing loans inched up, sparking a slight credit risk unease Implemented in April 2020, the Covid-19 debt restructuring measures came

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’

  • Bosba: The first Khmer woman composer from UK’s Cambridge

    Bosba Panh is just 25 years old, but she’s already accomplished some impressive milestones for herself and the Kingdom. On July 24, she graduated with a Master’s degree from the University of Cambridge as the first Khmer woman composer and Khmer music graduate ever at