Cambodia’s PM takes on boy racers

Cambodia’s prime minister has promised to resign if he cannot stop the children of the rich from misbehaving.

A Cambodian motor-cart loaded with grass and people in Phnom Penh (file photo)

Hun Sen says he is tired of young men causing chaos on the streets of the capital, Phnom Penh, by racing their expensive cars and motorbikes.

He has ordered the police to detain parents if they come to collect their errant sons from custody.

If they are government or military officials they will be sacked. If not, Hun Sen says he will quit himself.

It is not just that Phnom Penh’s traffic is getting worse. The quality of it is changing too.

Just a few years ago the streets were dominated by old Toyota Camrys and barely-functioning Daelim motorbikes – cast-offs from the United States and South Korea.

Impromptu racetrack

These days you are more likely to be forced into the gutter by a giant Hummer SUV, Mercedes S-Class, or at the very least a high-performance motorbike. And many of the drivers are little more than teenagers.

They are enjoying the benefits of Cambodia’s rapid economic growth – thanks to their wealthy parents. But the only thing the rich kids are earning is a reputation for anti-social behaviour.

Come the late afternoon, groups of them turn public roads near the riverside into an impromptu racetrack. There have been a number of serious crashes – and some drivers have threatened local journalists for reporting on their antics.

The tuk-tuk drivers who look for passengers along the racers’ route are fed up with the speed merchants.

“They don’t drive slowly, they drive very fast. So it’s very dangerous. The police are not here… they’re never afraid of the police,” one driver said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen is not the only one to notice that many of the boy-racers are related to government and military officials.


By Guy De Launey
BBC News, Phnom Penh

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