Crossing Cambodia

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Putting law into practice: a first?

Finally the new traffic law seems to be kicking in, that is if you believe the Associated Press original article. Not only that, it's turned out to be world news:

UK's The Sun:
'Cow in custody for killing six'
Japan's Mainichi:
'Cambodian cow in police custody for killing motorists'
The same caption from US AOL:
'Cambodian cow in police custody for killing motorists'
So how now, brown cow? Sorry it was a 'white' cow. The referred to incident:
'A Cambodian cow was taken into police custody for causing traffic accidents that resulted in the deaths of at least six people this year, a police official said Tuesday. The cow's owner could also face a six-month prison term under a new traffic law that holds people responsible for accidents caused by their animals, said Pin Doman, a police chief on the outskirts of Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh'.
Well, well, indeed. The trouble is that the law is not being enforced, partially because the politicians who cobbled it together and gave their blessing to it, had no idea what was in it! Unfortunately, this unique fact (new traffic law being enforced finally) is a non-fact; cows can not be arrested under the new law. There's no provision for that.

As the accident(s) happened at night:
'The white, 1.5-meter (5-foot) tall cow was standing in the middle of a main road Monday night when a 66-year-old motorcyclist crashed into the animal and died. Most Cambodian roads are dark at night [most roads anywhere are dark at night full stop!].'
The law would have required the following (Art. 34, no 2):
'At night or daytime, if cannot see well, animal herders have to hold white light in front and red light in the back'.
It is unclear if this applies to the herder or to the cow. And what the penalty could be. But either way it seems the cow was in violation of the new traffic law. Welcome to the team, Crossing Cambodia says, as every single person in Cambodia is in violation of this law: it's simply not enforceable.

Well, if this feat (killing one motorcyclist) seems incredulous the article adds:
'Earlier this year, the same cow was responsible for another traffic accident that resulted in the death of five people and several injuries, when a truck veered off the road and crashed as its driver tried to avoid the animal.'
There are actually so many angles on this story, let's start by a anonymous comment over on KI Media:
'Other domesticated animals to watch out for on the roads include dog, chicken, buffalo, pig, duck, and cat. I have a friend whose car ran over a small pig crossing the road some time ago. He was stopped by the police and forced to pay $50 compensation to the pig owner. Had it been a big pig his car would have overturned and he may have been killed or injured. However, that was not their understanding on what the public roads are used for'.
That was probably before the new traffic law , ....

James Sok on applauds the efforts of Cambodia's finest:
'This is an evidence of good law enforcement in Cambodia. This proves the critics of Cambodian police wrong. Cambodian police does its job very properly according to the law and regulation.

It is not an easy task to arrest a cow like this. Imagine, Cambodian police officers do not have special equipment to handle such arrest. However, police department under effective command of His Excellency Commissioner General of the National Police does a very good job.

Quite right, but as said the police are not enforcing the law just bringing their own view of things into practice.

The original article was from October the ninth. Cambodia Daily (12-10-2007) got into this piece of World Breaking News. They use the caption:
'Detained Cow Is a Repeat Traffic-Law Offender'.
The Cambodia Daily adds, that the driver who crashed was
'a drunk motorcyclist'.
The police chiefs name is
Doman, not Pin. The prior accident resulted in
'three deaths'
not five. The first time around the owner's were let off. The cow only
'suffered minor injuries [that's good news!]'.

Understandingly (at least in Cambodia) the cow is gaining some cult following. As Cambodia's past shows killers can be popular and revered. The owner:
'reveres the cow and believes it to be the cause of good fortune in business'.
Let's hope he means in the long term; the cow is now not under 'arrest' anymore but has been confiscated after
'the family of the victim refused the first offer of $125'.
A second compensation offer is in the pipeline. Finally, the cow is
'somewhat of a celebrity in the village'.
Despite all this nonsense it ultimately points out how utterly incompetent the Cambodian law enforcement is being carried out. Perfectly sensible measures aimed at the entire nation's population's safety are disrespected; but beware if you are an opposition party or an open critic of Cambodia's regime, law enforcement will catch up with you even before you know you are astray of any law.

Well, that's Cambodia
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