Despite Pledge, City Governor Says Beer Parlor Won’t Be Shut

Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Kep Chuktema on Wednesday said he would not close beer parlor Ruk Kha II, where a beer promotion girl was shot by two RCAF Brigade 70 soldiers last month, saying the shooting was an accident and that the suspects had already been punished.

“The parlor owner acknowledged his mistake,” Kep Chuktema said, one day after he prom­ised to make good on his 2005 pledge to close down any beer gar­den or karaoke parlor found to be the scene of a crime.

Kep Chuktema referred all further questions to the military po­lice.

Municipal Military Police Chief Ya Kim Y could not be reached for comment.

RCAF Brigade 70 commanding officer Mao Sophan, who re­leased his soldiers after they were briefly detained following the shooting, hung up when asked about the case.

The shooting at Ruk Kha II was the latest in a series of incidents in which beer promoters have been shot by RCAF soldiers or po­lice.

“The two officials must be punished…. The best way to stop shootings is to arrest suspects,” said Ros Sopheap, the executive di­rector for the local NGO Gender and Development Organization.

“I want Samdech Hun Sen to order his officials to stop carrying guns into beer gardens and kar­a­o­ke parlors. It damages his reputation if he is unable to control his of­ficials.”

She added that businesses should try harder to stop guests from entering with guns, which the law already prohibits.

But beer garden owners said that would be impossible.

“We run a beer garden. That is why we cannot prohibit guests from carrying weapons into our garden. It is not a disco club,” said Guech Lim, owner of First Night Beer Garden in Phnom Penh.

He said he maintains security by telling his staff of 20 beer promoters to stay away from armed guests.

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