Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM name-drops Duterte in citing drug concerns

PM name-drops Duterte in citing drug concerns

Hun Sen speaks during a graduation ceremony yesterday on Diamond Island in Phnom Penh. Facebook
Hun Sen speaks during a graduation ceremony yesterday on Diamond Island in Phnom Penh. Facebook

PM name-drops Duterte in citing drug concerns

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday called on authorities to ramp up efforts to eliminate Cambodia’s “booming” drug-trafficking menace, citing a recent heart to heart with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on the subject, while making sure to distance himself from the type of draconian tactics identified with the fellow ASEAN leader.

“I sat with the Philippines president and talked about the drug problem in his country. The Indonesian president [Joko Widodo] also has an issue similar to ours,” he said of a recent sit-down on the sidelines of an ASEAN summit in Laos. “So these pressing problems need to be solved.”

Duterte has faced severe criticism for his bloody call to stamp out the country’s drug problem, which has resulted in more than 3,000 extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers.

But while acknowledging the problem, the prime minister said he would refrain from using killings as a method of solving it, pointing not to the recent killings in the Philippines but those that took place under former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in the early 2000s.

“We will not use the measures of some countries that allowed the savage killing [of drug offenders], but we will not pardon the drug criminals either,” Hun Sen said in a speech to graduating students from the Royal University of Law and Economics.

He added that he would not amend the Constitution to impose the death penalty for drug crimes, as had been suggested to him by certain quarters.

A report released earlier this year by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime identified Cambodia as a transportation hub for methamphetamines and heroin.

Following the premier’s speech, National Police chief Neth Savoeun announced on Facebook that he had convened a meeting yesterday of the Campaign to Counter Illegal Drugs vowing to use new measures to reduce drug activity in the country.

Both Savouen and National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith could not be reached yesterday for details of these new measures.

However, the secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs Meas Virith said the campaign would use ongoing attempts to combat the drug trade, while adding newer measures.

“We are preparing a special campaign to strengthen and prevent the drugs from entering school because it is prevalent among youth,” he said. “We will also inspect the bar, guest houses, hotel, and truck drivers.”

David Harding, who has worked with Cambodian drug users for 17 years, said stamping out drug trafficking in Cambodia was difficult because low-paid civil servants potentially used it as an additional means of income.

He added that directives like Hun Sen’s would result in police officers feeling compelled to act and would again only target the “small fish” – small-time drug users and dealers –rather than the “big fish” like cartel heads.

MOST VIEWED

  • Serious flooding across country

    The Kampong Speu provincial Committee for Disaster Management on Wednesday issued an alert after non-stop heavy rain caused widespread flooding. In Koh Kong province, authorities are working with the disaster committee and the Cambodian Red Cross to assist those affected after more than 350 homes were

  • CNRP points to King in call for vote boycott

    Leaders of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have taken a new tack in their call for a boycott of the national elections later this month. They are now claiming that the people should follow the King, who is expected to abide by tradition

  • Actress’s NGO takes heat for promoting the ruling party

    An actress’s NGO which participated in an election campaign event contrary to the Law on Association and Non-Governmental Organisations (Lango) has been slammed. Chorn Chanleakena, a celebrity and the president of the Association of Artists Volunteering to Help Society, allegedly led its members in

  • Troop moves ‘won’t worry people’

    Senior officials at the Ministry of Defence and National Police said on Tuesday that riot training provided to the country’s police forces were aimed at preventing unexpected demonstrations and strikes before and after the July 29 national elections. The troop mobilisation, they said, would not