The National Police chief has instructed all municipal and provincial police departments to take action to ensure security and public order during Chinese New Year celebrations this week.
People of Chinese descent are marking the Lunar New Year this week and celebrations will last until well into the weekend.
In a statement obtained yesterday, National Police chief General Neth Savoeun said police officers must ensure stability, security and public order.
“Please pay attention and collect information detrimental to security and public order,” Gen Savoeun said. “Apprehend anyone suspected of incitement and causing chaos in society.”
He added that police officers should standby at temples and shrines as worshippers pray.
“Please prevent criminal offences, especially crimes committed by gangsters to disturb the festivities,” Gen Savoeun said.
In order to prevent fire incidents, City Hall last week reminded the public that the purchase and use of unregulated fireworks are not allowed.
“The administration wants local officials and the general public to know City Hall does not allow the use of fireworks, firecrackers or anything that makes an explosive noise during New Year,” Phnom Penh Governor Khuong Sreng said at the time. “Do not allow banned games to be played and banned religious and traditional ceremonies to be held.”
According to the National Police statement, Major General Ath Khem, Banteay Meanchey provincial chief of police, yesterday said he concurs with the order.
The National Police said Maj Gen Khem ordered provincial police officers to prevent “opportunists” from committing theft during celebrations.
“He ordered for more patrols and stricter monitoring of markets and other busy places,” the statement said. “He also ordered fire engines to be on standby.”
Major General Neth Vantha, director of the Interior Ministry’s fire prevention department, yesterday said he was instructed by the ministry and the national police to be prepared.
“We are ready to implement the instructions made by General Neth Savoeun,” Maj Gen Vantha said, noting that the ministry has prepared 339 fire engines and 1,337 firefighters across the Kingdom. “We are well prepared, by all means, including our officers and rescue equipment.”
He noted that for Phnom Penh, authorities prepared 30 fire engines from various organisations, including the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.
Maj Gen Vantha said Phnom Penh firefighters are on standby to target areas prone to fires such as the districts of Russey Keo, Tuol Kork, Dangkor, Por Senchey and Chbar Ampov.
“We are ready to intervene from the morning until the night of Chinese New Year,” he said. “The situation is good – there was only one fire incident and that was in Preah Vihear province. We are in control now.”
Maj Gen Vantha noted that provincial and municipal police officers are required to file two reports a day on security developments with the National Police.
San Chey, country director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said even though his organisation is supportive of the measures taken by police, security forces must focus on all corners of the Kingdom, not just suburbs.
“The authorities are still focused on areas that are not really necessary to focus on,” Mr Chey said. “Sometimes, private properties in areas such as the suburbs hire their own security. At the same time, no one defends and patrols neighbourhoods in actual need.”