Crossing Cambodia

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Market driven ...

Lao P.D.R. has come with a novel strategy to rein in, amongst others, their traffic police. Not a quasi politician who knows-it-all, but the general public themselves are allowed to determine the way in which the traffic police conduct their work. The Vientiane Times reports on:
'The Ministry of Public Security has installed more boxes in central Vientiane in which members of the public can deposit letters of complaint concerning inappropriate activities by the police'.
Yeah, Crossing Cambodia hears you, what good will that do? Apparently, as the article clarifies, there are already complaint boxes in operation. This had lead to:

'many local residents voiced their concerns about traffic police who acted inappropriately while questioning drivers who did not have vehicle licences or driving licences in their possession.

"People complained that police were rude and said they should be more courteous when asking drivers to produce documents", Lieutenant Colonel Khamphasith said.

He said that after many complaints about the same problem, the inspection department had ordered immediate investigations into the issue. He added that the ministry had urged traffic police to be polite in their dealings with the public and to remain patient in times of difficulty, because the police are the servants of the public, not their bosses'.
Well, if rudeness is the main problem of the traffic police, possibly the complainers could come to Cambodia to sort out the Cambodian traffic police. Here, the traffic police are regarded as having a poor profile, as they persistently ask for 'donations' or 'acts of generosity'! This being perceived as lecherous behaviour.
Personally, Crossing Cambodia has had no issue with traffic police; it seems that over-exaggeration forms a major part of the reports. If at all, one could say that the Cambodian traffic police are a lethargic lot. They are there, under a shady corner, quietly waiting for the unsuspecting traffic participant to stop right under their noses. As the traffic rules are never clear, nor is the general public informed on what newest political decree has been stated (aimed at beautifying the city) it's very easy to request this unsuspecting person for a donation. Not?So why this difference between comparable neighbours? Cultural possibly. The above article concludes with:
'The Ministry of Finance and other ministries have also shown an interest in making similar boxes where the public can lodge grievances'.
Contrast this to the following. A few weeks ago an independent research concluded that 29% of the Cambodia beer market had been imported illegally: no statistics, no import duties. Local producers of course, who have as recent as last week, been requested to pay more taxes, are of course not happy. Most imports are now on the market cheaper than local produce. In the past this has lead to international companies such as Nestle to discontinue local production. So, one would expect the government to look into this seriously: they are losing on taxes, and the illegal imports are threatening local jobs.
Not so,
Xinhua reports:
' "The study is a waste of money. It is an unacceptable report," said Hun Sen [Cambodian PM]
It [the report] blamed the boom of contraband beer on weak government and law enforcement'.
Conclusion: Cambodia is in the denial phase. When will Cambodia start embracing their faults and improving herself?
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