Minister of Posts and Telecommunications So Khun formally announced Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ban on the latest generation mobile phones on Monday, urging phone companies not to be disappointed and adding that the ban would not be extended to the Internet.
Hun Sen announced a 10-year ban on the “3G” mobile phones on Friday, after his wife Bun Rany and the wives of several other top government officials petitioned him to do so, warning that the phones could be used by women to seduce men with pornography.
“The postponement is made only on the video phone, but the Internet ISP is not banned. It still operates as usual,” So Khun said at a news conference at his ministry.
“Phone operators, please don’t be disappointed. Please understand the ministry,” he said. “[The 3G technology] is not banned forever. It is just postponed for a while.”
Representatives of MobiTel and the AZ group of companies, both of which had been vying to introduce the first 3G network to Cambodia, attended the conference.
MobiTel is headed by Phnom Penh Chamber of Commerce President Kith Meng.
AZ is headed by Ung Bun Hauv, a lawmaker in Hun Sen’s ruling CPP. The AZ company rose to prominence on the back of a lucrative government contract to levy vehicle tolls on National Route 4.
Responding to a reporter’s question, So Khun said the AZ group had nothing to do with the 3G ban, which will scuttle MobiTel’s efforts to launch the network first.
“AZ did not instigate [the ban] for the postponement of other companies,” So Khun said. “AZ did not know anything about this.”
So Khun stressed that the ban applies equally to both companies.
Still, he said, MobiTel, which had been hoping to launch a network as soon as June 1, may be hit hardest by the decision.
“I think the one who would be impacted could be MobiTel. [But] AZ must also change its plan,” So Khun said.
MobiTel marketing manager Sitha Pom and finance manager Francisco Perol, who attended the conference, both declined to comment on the ban.
AZ staff at the conference refused to talk to reporters. Contacted by telephone, Lim Bun Suor, director of AZ, declined to comment.
So Khun also read out a May 25 letter from Hun Sen, which states that the 3G phones should be held off for an “appropriate time in the future [when] the social morality is improved.”