Analysts hail the seventh-mandate government’s commitment to combating illegal drugs and ensuring public safety.

When he took office in August last year, Prime Minister Hun Manet pledged to place public order as one of his top priority areas. This includes a policy of “house cleansing”, by ordering all police and military personnel to undergo drug testing.

The policy has since been extended to include all civil servants, at the national and sub-national levels.

As of March 28, more than 230 police officers had been fired or demoted for their involvement with drugs, or for other serious violations of the disciplinary code, according to Ministry of Interior spokesperson Touch Sokhak.

“Since the new government was born, over 160 officials from within the National Police and General Department of Prisons [GDI] have been dismissed for testing positive for drugs,” he said.

“Over 50 officials from the National Police and GDI have been dismissed for general violations of discipline. In addition, more than 20 officials from these two entities have been demoted,” he added.

He explained that the testing of civil servants had not yet been completed, so no figures were available yet.

Political analyst Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, told The Post on March 28 that the new government has laid out a very clear and specific plan to combat narcotics, including through the testing of the armed forces and civil servants.

“Ensuring that no state employees are drug users is an excellent decision, and will contribute to the eradication of the drug problem,” he said.

“The ringleaders of several drug trafficking operations have been arrested and given severe sentences, with some receiving life in prison. This shows that the government is sending a clear message on the fight against drugs,” he added.

Phea also praised the decision to dismiss any officials who tested positive for drugs, as well as to charge those who are involved in trafficking narcotics.

He also saw the government’s stand against illegal gambling as another positive sign, as well as its commitment to enforcing traffic laws, especially through the use of breathalyser testing. 

He noted that several serving police officers have been disciplined for unprofessional conduct while administering breath testing to drivers.

“I believe the general public sees this as good sign. I hope the government will continue to sustain its law enforcement campaign. This benefits the security, safety, prosperity and development of Cambodia, which benefits the Cambodian people as a whole,” he said.

Sokhak explained that the action taken against police officers and civil servants continues former Prime Minister Hun Sen’s legacy, by “having surgery”, the last of his memorable five-point reform slogan. It also aligns with similar sentiments expressed by Manet and interior minister Sar Sokha.

“We are doing as much as possible to ensure that the officials within the National Police, prison department and public administration under the ministry are clean. We don’t care about quantity, we care about the quality and effectiveness of our work for the government, the people, and the Kingdom as a whole,” he said.