Hun Sen Blasts Gambling Among Politicians

Prime Minister Hun Sen singled out gambling politicians in a nationally broadcast speech Tuesday, saying some officials are “addicted” to casino gaming.

Speaking in Stung Treng prov­ince at an inauguration ceremony for National Road 7, Hun Sen said that he forbids CPP and Funcinpec officials from gambling, but that some individuals from other parties continue to frequent casinos.

“They accuse the government of creating a casino country, but they gamble themselves,” Hun Sen said of the unnamed politicians.

“Hun Sen knows that you gamble; if I close [the casinos] you won’t have any place to gamble,” the prime minister said.

By law, Cambodian citizens are not allowed to gamble, a point the prime minister raised in his speech. However, “some Cam­bodians and politicians still gamble and they gamble in groups—they are addicted to gambling,” Hun Sen said.

It was unclear exactly which politicians Hun Sen was referring to, but SRP lawmaker and Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang has previously admitted to having a gambling problem, an issue he claims to have resolved.

Contacted Tuesday, Eng Chhay Eang said the only way to completely put a stop to gambling by politicians and Cambodians alike was to rid the country of casinos.

“When I used to gamble, CPP senior officials also gambled,” he said.

Eng Chhay Eang said the SRP has no internal rules prohibiting its members from gambling, as the party treated the matter as a private issue so long as it wasn’t harming the national interest.

“The prime minister has no work to do, so he criticizes other people,” he said.

Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay said his party also has no internal rules prohibiting gambling, but that he agreed with the sentiments in Hun Sen’s speech.

Despite his tirade against gambling officials, Hun Sen said he would likely place a small bet or two on the upcoming Olympic Games.

“I wish the Beijing [Games] to be a success,” he said. “I will look forward to watching the television—I will only bet one dollar.”

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