PHNOM PENH —
Authorities say they are cracking down on illegal “press” license plates, threatening imprisonment for the offense.
Information Minister Khieu Kanharith issued a warning to anyone using the license plates, which are not officially issued or permitted.
The license plates are not necessarily used by journalists themselves, but they exploit a system in which police who collect bribes instead of issuing traffic tickets avoid reporters.
Ouk Kimseng, an undersecretary of state for the ministry, said the police will have to stop ignoring the illegal plates and “do their job.”
However, Run Rath Veasna, director of the traffic police department, said the “press” license plates are no longer really an issue. Old photos of the license plates are circulating on social media, he said. Police enforce the law fairly, and they don’t avoid confrontations with journalists, he said.
“We take action against any illegal vehicles, regardless of whether they bear ‘press’ plates or any other illegal plates,” he said.
Pen Bona, president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, told VOA Khmer that “press” plates are always used by journalists and that members of his organization have been asked to stop using them. “Non-journalists also wear the plate on their vehicles,” he said.
Cambodia does have some special plates, usually for tax exemption, including for police, military, NGOs and state officials. But Run Rath Veasna said police have been increasingly checking for drunk drivers and for illegal plates. That means targeting “press” plates, as well, he said.