Police who use position for personal gain should be disciplined

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The case of a well-known Lao businessman who was fined over a dubious traffic offence has been a hot topic on social media after he referred the incident to the court of public opinion.

The man was driving a Jeep on Road No. 13 South when he was stopped by police for a document check in Khammuan province.

The Jeep belonged to his own company.

All of his documents were in order, including his driving licence, vehicle registration book, copy of his business licence, insurance certificate, technical inspection, and road tax.

However, the police were not satisfied and demanded that he produce the pink document that authorises company vehicles to carry goods or passengers.

Given that in over 30 years of driving he had never heard of this document or been asked to produce it, the driver was surprised.

He called his business friends and other people, who told him this permit was related to goods transport, and he relayed this information to the police. But the police wouldn’t listen to his explanations and insisted that he pay a fine on the spot because he didn’t have this permit.

Feeling hard done by and conned, the man posted the incident on Facebook to let everyone know about the injustice of the situation. He also sought public opinion on the regulations regarding the pink document, or transport permit.

He was inundated with comments, with most people saying the police were at fault because this permit was not required for his use of the Jeep.

Many people also commented on the fact that it is common practice for the police to fine motorists by taking advantage of their ignorance of some of the more obscure regulations, and in some cases inventing excuses to fine people.

The day after the Facebook post, a national road safety radio programme took up the case and asked a senior police officer about the pink document, which is issued by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport. It was stated that this document is only required for vehicles that transport goods. This means that the man’s Jeep, along with pick-up trucks and other vehicles used for the purpose of company business, do not need to be issued with this permit.

What can the government or police authorities do to prevent such misconduct? It is clear that in this situation the police abused their position of authority to demand money from a passing motorist, which no doubt went into their pockets. It’s essential that this type of behaviour is penalised, and in serious cases the offender should be dismissed.

The government is trying to cut back on civil servant intake to streamline its operations by hiring fewer people, and is also trying to force officials to toe the line and not abuse their position of power for their own benefit.

There are plenty of worthy people queuing up to apply for government jobs, but at the same time the government wants to remove unproductive personnel from its workforce, across all agencies.

If the police do not act as role models at all times, how can the general public be expected to respect the regulations or have faith in the government’s management?

We await with great interest the result of developments in this matter. Will there be an investigation into this incident? Will any senior police in Khammuan province be penalised, or will the police officers who used their position to unjustly extract a fine be disciplined in any way? The public is hoping that, for once, justice will be done.



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