Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced the creation of a working group to handle petitions over injustices addressed to him by protesters.
On Tuesday, Mr Hun Sen said he will appoint 22 officials to the working group, including General Hing Bun Hieng, commander of his bodyguard unit, Phnom Penh Governor Khuong Sreng and Kandal Provincial Governor Mao Phirun.
Phnom Penh police chief Lieutenant General Sar Thet and Phnom Penh military police chief Rath Sreang will also join.
The group will also be comprised of officials from the ministries of Land Management, Labour, Information, Justice, Social Affairs and members of the National Assembly, he said.
Mr Hun Sen said the group has the right to receive complaints from protesters, while coordinating and solving issues. He said the group must regularly report to him.
“The group is tasked to cooperate with relevant authorities to prevent demonstrators from filing complaints directly to me and my wife,” he said. “It’s also to prevent incitements that exploit the government.”
Mr Sreng yesterday said the group is tasked with reviewing grievances and requests addressed to the Prime Minister.
“It’s all about serving people – especially for complaints meant for the Prime Minister’s cabinet,” Mr Sreng said. “The group will gather complaints and offer solutions – that’s how it works.”
Soeng Senkaruna, a senior investigator for rights group Adhoc, said the group will instil fear in demonstrators.
“It’s not helpful to assign a group with combined forces. The group will scare victims,” he said. “Each ministry has its own mechanism to handle complaints so problems could be tackled faster.”
Om Sophy, whose community in Kampong Chhnang province has been embroiled in a long-running land dispute with a company, said she believes the true purpose of the group is to crack down on protestors.