Hun Sen Orders Crackdown on Illegal Phones

Prime Minister Hun Sen has issued a stern directive to stop illegal international phone gateways, just as police this week found one such gateway in his brother-in-law’s villa.

The directive is dated Tuesday, but was not made public until Thursday—one day after police found the gateway in the Cham­kar Mon district house that a police official said on Wednesday is owned by Nhim Chandara, now the ambassador to Burma. Nhim Chandara does not live in the house, another police official said on Wednesday.

The directive contends that criminal foreigners are colluding with locals to import phone equipment and use it to cheat the state government out of phone tax revenues.

The directive orders severe pun­ishment for offenders who in­stall or operate such gateways. It appeals to the public to be on the lookout for homes or buildings that have more telecommunications equipment than would be typ­ical for a family, such as a large satellite dish.

To report suspicions, the public is urged to call 023-426-510 or con­­tact the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.

The directive orders government authorities not to collude in providing the gateway. Any official found in collusion “must be re­sponsible before the law and the government,” it says.

And it orders border police to seize satellite dishes and other telecommunications equipment that are not accompanied by im­port permission from the tele­communications ministry.

On Wednesday, police raided the home, confiscated phone equipment and made three ar­rests. Police have released one suspect but are still interrogating Em Mady and Sev Khaiy, both 31, said Heng Pov, municipal judicial police chief. They will be brought before the court [Thurs­day] and charged with installing an illegal international gateway, he said.

Telecommunications authorities have attempted to crack down on the gateways multiple times, only to have them reappear within a couple of months. In previous raids they found gateways at the Ministry of Defense’s technical department in Russei Keo district and in rented offices at the Min­istry of Information compound.

The scam allows people living overseas to purchase cards and call 012 or 016 cellphone numbers without using the government gateway. The government charges $0.70 a minute when calls are made to Cambodia.

 

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