Acleda Point Break
The Cambodian hot news this week was the 30 hours Hostage crisis in an Acleda Bank branch in Kampong Cham, 124 kilometers east of Phnom Penh. The event attracted all the national attention and it showed once more that cell phone companies are living a golden age since news on the spot in Cambodia are reaching a national public by SMS and we could say SMS is the Khmer Twitter so far. The news that two bank robbers took the Acleda branch office at the Stung Treng district in Kampong Cham last Tuesday (22nd January) was followed with interest and attracted security forces that surrounded the bank at the best way of a Hollywood movie.
On Tuesday, 22nd January, at about 18:00 two allegedly drug addicts took control of the Acleda Bank branch with a K-54 pistol and retained three employees. It is pointed out that the two men refused to give food to their hostages, they did not accept to leave the bank with about 57 million riel (14 thousand dollars) and demanded crystal methamphetamine to deliver the three employees.
An unit of anti-terrorist police arrived from Phnom Penh and surrounded the bank. The police agreed to give a small quantity of methamphetamine to the men and two motorbikes in order to escape.
On Wednesday morning an allegedly hostage, Mat Ly, escaped the bank and said that there were three hostages more inside – we knew they were three… if he could escape, two should remain… The declarations of Mat Ly rose serious doubts. He even had a self-injury to give credibility to his alibi.
On Wednesday night, at about 22:00, three men (not two) escaped from the bank and took refuge in a rubber plantation, but they were subsequently arrested by the police.
The authorities that were already suspecting it was a fabricated situation, arrested that same night the ‘hostages’ and the branch cashier manager Sim Kimthat. The police concluded that there were not hostages, but all were related to the bank staff and they were working together to create the mysterious situation that could have the only purpose to robe their own bank.
Bank cashier Sin Kimthat was pointed out by the authorities as the martermind of the situation, according to a press conference leaded by the Kampong Cham police department in Thursday. The five men (two ‘kidnappers’ and three ‘hostages’) were working together to robe the bank by fabricating the event and there are also two outsiders involved, but their identities still to be revealed.
In the police press conference it was also said that branch bank manager Sim Kimthan was in bankruptcy and he decided to robe the bank. Acleda’s president In Channy declared that the five men, cashier Sin Kimthat, two customer service agents and two credit officers, are going to be fired and he will put charges for fraud.
This event rises several worries further than the fact itself. If a high standard and reputed bank as Acleda suffers a situation like this, what we can expect in other areas? There is a big need of ethic formation in schools, universities, families and we need to hurry to create a generation of honest people able to assume difficulties with courage and transparency.