Siem Reap provincial police, immigration police and the departments of tourism and commerce convened Monday to discuss taking action against a new strip club in that province.
“It is illegal to open a strip club in Siem Reap. When [the owner] asked for a business license, it was to open a restaurant, not a strip club,” said Koy Song, the provincial director of tourism. “Today we had a discussion with the governor and police about making an investigation with the aim to crack down.”
The Korean-owned Fantasy World club opened its doors in Svay Dangkum commune on National Road 6 about a month ago, billing itself as a restaurant, he said.
Meang Tong Sop, the club owner, could not be reached for comment Monday.
Koy Song said that during the early evening at Fantasy World, scantily clad Russian women dance suggestively in cages on a stage. As the night progresses, they shed their clothes.
Chap Nhalyvuth, Siem Reap’s provincial governor, said Sunday that authorities never issued a license for a strip club. He said that if such a club exists, it is a violation of government policy.
“Samdech Prime Minister [Hun Sen] already announced that no porn culture will be allowed to destroy our cultural province. We do not welcome this kind of business,” Chap Nhalyvuth said.
Om Em, chief of the provincial Serious Crime Bureau, and Doung Sokha, a penal police officer, both said they could not go to the club because they had heard it is too expensive.
“My friend told me four cans of beer costs $40. If one girl comes to sit with you, [it] costs another $20. If any guest wants to have sex with her, the club will charge $100 for Cambodians and $300 for foreigners,” Om Em said Monday.
Another police officer who asked not to be named said Fantasy World is close to his house. “I believe that the club must be related to high-ranking government officials in Phnom Penh and protected by military police officials in Siem Reap…. I sometimes see the Korean [owner] driving an RCAF number-plated car, and I wonder why a foreigner has the right to drive a military car,” he said.
He added that club is known to have back rooms where customers can have sex with the dancers.
Siem Reap’s military police commander could not be reached for comment Monday.
Om Sivuthya, Siem Reap’s chief of Immigration Police claimed that Fantasy World is not a strip club. He said the club just has a dance show to attract foreign tourists, not Cambodians. But he added that Cambodians who can afford the club’s costs are welcomed there.
“I questioned the Korean club manager this morning about this issue. He told me that his Russian dancing girls never take off their dresses, but only wear sexy short dresses to attract and to make foreign guests happy,” Om Sivuthya said. He said Fantasy World poses no threat to Cambodian culture because it is just a simple club like those in many other countries.
Om Sivuthya said the club is legal. He said club owner Meang Tong Sop, has a proper license and his foreign employees—13 Russian dancers and one Filipino disc jockey—have legal passports and visas, although they have expired. “They ask me for one more week to extend their visas,” he said. “We will wait and see whether they show us an updated visa to stay here.”
Speaking by the phone from Australia Monday, Minister of Tourism Veng Sereyvuth said that Cambodia has never wanted to encourage the opening of strip clubs. “We are not welcoming it, and I will order the provincial government to immediately” investigate the matter, he said.
Kousoum Saroeuth, director general of the Ministry of Tourism, calling from Siem Reap on Monday afternoon said that Tourism Secretary of State Thong Khon had ordered provincial police to shut down Fantasy World on April 19.
Although that order apparently has not been carried out, Kousoum Saroeuth reported that he had just driven past the club, and it did not appear to be open for business.