With the spike in crimes following a huge influx of Chinese nationals, Interior Minister Sar Kheng yesterday assigned four main units under the ministry to set up a support team to restore security in Preah Sihanouk province.
Speaking during an event at the Interior Ministry yesterday, Mr Kheng said the four units include the General Department of Administration, the National Police, General Department of Immigration, and legal experts.
He noted that the team is tasked with providing additional support to provincial authorities in cracking down on crimes.
Mr Kheng said that the crimes plaguing Sihanoukville include murder, drug trafficking and gambling, which has led to extortion and kidnapping cases.
He said the foreign population has ballooned to about 30,000 in the coastal province in recent years, noting illegal activities were mostly committed by foreign nationals.
Mr Kheng said the team must suppress all illegal activities to restore social order in the province.
“It’s very typical that there are good people and bad people of all nationalities. Because the area is not well managed, it is prone to anarchy. So the team must restore the situation and tackle the problems to ensure that this popular tourist site is of good security,” Mr Kheng said.
Preah Sihanouk provincial Governor Yun Min said that economic development has fuelled the growth of foreign tourists, causing challenges for authorities.
“I am happy that the Interior Minister sent this group and forces to reinforce local authorities. Some foreigners cause chaos, such as driving without licenses, drinking and gang fighting in public. It’s a concern for local people,” Mr Min said.
Cheat Sotheary, coordinator for rights group Adhoc in the province, said authorities should set tougher conditions on foreign companies and take serious actions against foreign nationals to curb crimes.
“The mushrooming of Chinese businesses have disgruntled some local businesspeople so I think it’s important for the companies to facilitate that local businesses stay open. The authorities should be enforcing the immigration law strictly and suppressing all crimes,” Ms Sotheary said.
Earlier this week, four Chinese nationals were arrested over unlawfully confining two countrymen, and torturing one of them, over a gambling debt in Sihanoukville.
In February, Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Xiong Bo said that China stands in solidarity with Cambodian authorities to arrest Chinese nationals committing crimes in the country following criticism from Cambodians on Facebook.
Mr Xiong said China absolutely supports the arrests of any of its nationals committing crimes in the country, operating businesses illegally or scamming fellow countrymen back home.
Since 2011 until October last year, 1,133 Chinese nationals have been deported to China for offences related to cybercrime alone.
The National Police last week formed an 11-member working group drawn from senior officials from various departments within the National Police to check and evaluate the security situation in the province.
According to the working group’s report, up to 70 percent of investments in the province came from China, and the increase in Chinese investment has led Chinese mafia members to set up criminal networks and commit various crimes, including kidnapping.