In a country builds on
authorities come with an attitude; either you
accept us or fear us. In your face, in the
streets, in the hall of government or in private
establishments, they will make sure that you got
Harassment made by police is quite common. It’s
very much like road rage; the big one
intimidates the small one. Vehicles are the king
of the road; motorcycle dominates those that
walk the streets, and everything else down the
lines. Those who do not own car or motorbike are
harassment free but risks getting run over by
cars, because most sidewalks turn into parking
lots and micro-economy.
tailgate and honk like mad. To cross the intersection;
one must pull into an incoming traffic, blocking
one-lane to form headway.
one another to drive in the middle of the road, because
it allows driver more freedom to maneuver left-and-right.
Traffic violations in Cambodia are long-lists,
depending on what the police want. U-Turn,
illegal parking, running red light, and
overtaking are parts of everyday driving.
may witness the police themselves violates the
traffic law that they want to impose on the
motorists. Chaotic on the roads and fear of
police harassment has left motorists exhausted
Speeding is not included, because there is no
steed limit in Phnom Penh. Most inter-province
highways, the speed limit is set at t 90km/h,
but it rarely enforced or stay within the speed
Most drivers want to be number-one and
ahead of the pack. Old car and less expansive
must follow and stay behind the new one.
Government officials are always in a hurry to
save the country from catastrophe.
Most claimed to have driven faster than the
legal speed limit. Most also claimed to have
driven faster than the European countries and
Most motorists carry a duplicated copy driver
license, because police is known to have
confiscated and use it as a bargaining tool to
extract money from motorists. As this happened,
time on the sidewalk is always on their side.
They would ruin your day until you bribe your
A good numbers of vehicles sold in Cambodia
never legally transferred the ownership title to
a legal buyer. There are many reasons and
complex. Most final sale with signed and
thumb-printed documents between buyer and seller, with few witnesses during sale transactions.
This alone gives enough reason for police to
ruin your day. In most cases, police demands
original documents, which most do not carry with
Daytime Running Light:
Having your headlight on during daylight, police
constitutes it as a traffic violation. In
Cambodia, police concluded that there is no
tunnel. Accidentally having the headlight on
blinds an incoming traffic; a reason uses to
stop and fine the motorists. Running daylight
headlight was invented as part of road safety,
particularly for motorcycles.
Most police uphold their principle as it comes
to begging for money. Their best weapon in
theirs arsenal is to use the law to make claims
for money and it works every time in their
Red Cross on Traffic Law
Most traffic police deliberately harass and intimidate motorists
to extorted money. They will demands for documents that
are not in their legal jurisdiction.
One common line often uses by the traffic police
is to have your vehicle or motorbike impounded
or having you present in person at the Police
Central. Most classic phrase is that they only
“enforces the rule of law and serves public
Police would use everything at their disposal to extort money. In some
cases, if nothing else works, police will
bargain and negotiate the fine. Most motorists
would bribe to avoid having to go through with
headache and arguments with police, because you
will guarantee to loose.
Often times, you will run into a gang of police
having their day out drinking with friends. They
would brag about their shake down tactics with
motorists. They would talk about certain
motorist resisting arrest and those that they
easily manipulated and fall for their tricks.
Police chooses and selects their location
carefully. Rundown neighborhoods around markets
and school are their prime targets. Around these
locations, it is not common to see five to ten
policemen loitering on sidewalk, in some cases,
with folding table and plastic chair that turns
into a sidewalk office.
My Country, My Beer
Police choose major
boulevards in Phnom Penh carefully. One of those
locations are Norodom Blvd, around the
Independence Monument and areas close to high
ranking officials. Everyone knows the
reason behind it. Many high profile lives on
Time is also a key factor. At around noon,
between 11:30am-2:30pm, police are most likely
out to stop motorists, because most of their
bosses are home having lunch and taking a nap.
Most people want to make a few Riels works throughout the day and nigh.
Students are heading home and motodups are
making money. This is a prime time for police to
make a living. Would you blame them?
Most roads in Cambodia have no markings; all
motorists are tailgating one another through
red-lights or making turns and rarely stop for
pedestrians crossing the road.
City Planning: Cambodia has no zoning system.
Schools, pagoda, commercial or residential are
cramped in one convenient place. Public parks
are much same way. There is no public parking
space built into the park itself.
Parks cause traffic jams, because those come to
enjoy the park have to park in the street
blocking one of the lane. To make matter worse,
people are always loitering in the streets,
making a living and playing at the same time.
Life on the Road:
Police and the motorists are both at risk.
Police would rush out into an incoming traffic
to stop cars and motorbikes, while the
motorists, at the same are trying to run.
Sometime, one would make a U-Turn into in coming
traffic to get away. It is common, if you could avoid
getting caught, you are free to go and police
lost their share of earning.
In most countries, people call the police for
helps, in Cambodia, people call up friends in
higher-up, family, father, brother and sister to
mediate traffic deputes. There are many reasons
behind all this. Big and powerful has the upper
hand when it comes to settling deputes in the
streets. Police often intervene in favor of the
rich and powerful.
Serve and Protect:
Police are part of public services, to serve and
protect the public’s interest. In the streets of
Cambodia, police turns everything into their own
little private business to make end meets. There
is enough blames to go around when most are in a
survival mode and greedy.
Everyone is aware of the risks going to the
police central. If time is at your disposal; the
money is no objection, but that alone is not
enough. At this point, police can and will get
more money for it. Police obsess and overuse the
same line: “Only Enforce the Law”
Too often vehicle impounded by the police never
been easy to recover. Too often, spare parts are
removed or the vehicle itself, sometime
disappeared without a trace. In Cambodia, it’s
more like "don’t ask policy", because one will
tell you anything. "I don’t know" constitutes "NOT
at fault" and free from guilt.
Majority of motorists rarely uses turn-signals
to make legal turns. Making a U-Turn into an
incoming traffic is quite a routine. Extensive
talk on cell phone, watching Karaoke and
vehicles fill with stuffed-animals. Most use the
term "Public" loosely as it comes to streets and
public properties: It is NOT yours!
Bigger and more expensive the vehicles the more
driving privileges one can enjoy with the
impunity from police. Once in a while, one will
get a salute from the police on the sidewalk.
It is new phenomenon to
Cambodians, because they feel that car will
protect them from anything on the road. Most
removed them, because they feel that the
seatbelts are useless and take up space.
Child seat: is another factor that Cambodians’
parents never take into consideration as part of
their driving and child safety. Children are
often found in the front seat with adult,
crawling, something at the wheel with the
Tailgate & Honking:
People tailgate and honk like mad. To cross the
intersection; one must pull into an incoming
traffic, blocking one-lane to form headway.
People advices one another to drive in the
middle of the road, because it allows driver
more freedom to maneuver left-and-right, because
few stays in within their lane and people are
always loitering in the streets, part playing
and part making a living.
Passing: People pass on hills; they pass on turns; they pass on
bridges and rarely make a complete stop at pedestrians crossing, because there are few or
none. Most proceed while the green light is
still counting down at 4 seconds. People drive
on curb, on grass and around people, where there
is way; there is room. Waiting in line, means
Red Cross on Traffic
Law: At major intersections,
you may find children from Red Cross turns public educator on
Traffic Law. At this time, the police would take
a sideline watching the traffic flow. Most
advice given public is "Respect the traffic law
is to respect your life”, an excerpt from a
speech make by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
It’s a way of life. People on the road appear
frantically on the move and hurry to go places.
Vehicle bearing government plates appear
constantly and aggressive on the move to save
the country from catastrophic event. Late models
vehicle is overtaking the old one; motorcycles
overtake pedestrians and cyclo overtakes
everything else in a descending orders.
convinced that it is not the traffic fine
that motorists are trying to run off with the
police, are the harassment and intimidation made
by the police.
Most never considered Driver License a
privilege, but literally a given-rights-to-drive
recklessly. For motorists, if one can make a run from
the police, it is safe and not breaking the law.
Traffic law in Cambodia is more limiting access
of driving than enforcing the traffic law. Many
concrete road blocks were erected throughout the
city to prevent illegal turns. Using
alternatives back roads, which most are not
suitable to handle heavy traffic, causes the
Everyday, traffic police would risk life running
into the street to stop motorists, with the
exception to late expensive model, government or
military plate. To earn recognitions, in some
cases, police would salute the vehicles and
makes way for the traffic.
Few are excluded from Police harassment.
Motorcycles are the most vulnerable on the road,
particularly those from rural with old
motorcycles and brownish-skin.
The Killer Humvee
Police turned private security
and parking attendant at restaurants, nigh
clubs, and casinos to earn supplemental income, using their credential and
power vested in them to stop traffic and make
way for business patrons.
Poverty will bear all sins and immoral acts. We are living in a society that is far beyond
immorality into amorality. With immorality,
conscience will distinguish one between right
and wrong. Amorality, one simply does not care.
It is all about give and take in the context of
The Rhetoric will continue!..|
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