I just tried Googling blogs on Cambodia's tourist police. I was looking specifically for tourists' experience with the Cambodian tourist police, as opposed to the ordinary police force. The reason is I had a glowing report from a Western tourist recently which honestly, I found hard to believe, so I was trying to verify with the experience of other foreigners.
Lo and behold, I came across this Singaporean's bribe of USD20 to the tourist police in Phnom Penh.
The experience of the Bloom customer was completely different. This person's mother is a policewoman so she may know what she was talking about when she said the tourist police in Siem Reap were completely professional. The forms they gave her to fill in also impressed her. She was asked to write down her complaints in a police report and also what, specifically, she would like the police to do (she was robbed). Also, everything was conducted in English.
I had sent her with my tuk-tuk driver who took her to the tourist police station on the way to Angkor Wat. She said within five minutes, she knew they would not ask her for money. In fact, when she complimented them and said how everyone said Cambodian police cannot be trusted because they all want bribes, the tourist police were "positively offended" and said "Don't compare us with the Cambodian police! We are the Tourist Police and we are different!"
Incredible. They spent 3 hours with her and promised they would launch an investigation and keep her updated.
When I thought about it later, it did make sense. Siem Reap's main business is tourism. The tourist police here speak English and are probably better remunerated than their counterparts in other police departments. The Cambodian government probably figure it is cheaper in the long run to pay the tourist police better than to have lowly-paid and corrupt policemen who annoy tourists who then spread the word back home.
Here is the Ministry of Interior's explanation of what the tourist police is supposed to do.
we got a problem, my credit card was robbed and we try to write a complain in the tourism office near Angkor. We were there for about 1 hour, they were asking stupid questions about at what time we called the bank, how much money we got in the account, we had to show them the letter from the bank, just to lost time. We say we wanted only the complain form to sent to the bank, but he didn´t give us a copy. After that, they burned the paper in front of us. After that I realised they wanted money from me, and all the questions were only to know how much money I have and so give more money to them. Corruption is even here, in the face of the tourism in Angkor.
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