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

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    The Ministry of Health has issued a directive on the treatment of people who have tested positive for the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant, following a suggestion from Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of January 21. The directive permits home quarantine for those who

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • Mr Pancake or M Crepe? Tasty by any title

    Crowds of people gather around a lone man with a mobile food cart every day at around 2pm in front of the Institut Francais du Cambodge to order what many say are the best crepes in Phnom Penh. To some – even to the man making

  • Hun Sen gets 4th Covid shot, urges compatriots to follow

    Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany on January 14 received their fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine and called on compatriots to follow suit as the Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread in the community. This marks the launch of Cambodia's fourth-dose vaccination campaign,

  • Fourth dose Covid booster drive jabs 43K in two days

    In the first two days of the fourth-dose Covid-19 vaccination campaign, more than 43,000 people volunteered to get the jabs, while over 4.6 million people have received a third shot. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said that fourth-dose vaccinations, which began on January 14 exclusively with the Pfizer

  • Singapore backs Cambodia's efforts on Myanmar

    Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong supports Cambodia in its efforts to seek a solution to the ongoing Myanmar crisis as the chair of ASEAN. Lee expressed his support during a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen via videoconference on January 14, with the talks focused