Phnom Penh City Hall has issued a notification to capital residents denying rumours that Cambodian ID cards, which are currently free of charge, will carry a fee after the national elections.
The Wednesday announcement on City Hall’s Facebook page contends that “small groups” were disseminating information telling people to quickly register for the so-called "Khmer Identity Cards" before the July 29 election, or else they would be charged for the document.
The notification does not mention which groups are responsible or how the information is being disseminated, with Phnom Penh Governor Khoung Sreng saying he could not divulge who was behind the rumours, but that relevant authorities had been asked to arrest any guilty individuals.
“This is an act of subversion, so it could be legal to charge them. We cannot tell how many culprits because it is a secret of the authorities,” he said.
Sreng added that the government had made clear that essential documents like ID cards, and birth and marriage certificates would be issued free of charge to citizens and that there had been no change in this policy.
While these cards are meant to be free, there have historically been complaints of local officials charging unofficial fees, or of lengthy delays in getting the document.
Prok May Oudom, deputy director for the Interior Ministry’s Identification Department, said that “ill-intentioned” people were spreading the misinformation, but that there had been no spike in ID applications.
“Currently the flow of people coming to make identity cards is the same as usual,” he said.