KR Cafe Owner Says Closing Undemocratic

The Khmer Rouge-theme res­taurant—which shocked some visitors with its waitresses in black pa­ja­mas serving Pol Pot regime rice gruel—was officially shuttered by the Phnom Penh Municipal Tour­ism Department on Tuesday, its owner said.

L’histoire Cafe, located across the street from the Tuol Sleng Gen­o­cide Museum, was closed unofficially earlier this month after the Tourism Ministry announced that it did not have a proper license.

“I was denied to allow to reopen my restaurant Tuesday by municipal tourism officials,” restaurant own­er Hakpry Sochivan said, ad­d­ing that the officials told him he will not be issued a license.

The officials said, however, that he would be allowed to reopen if he dropped the controversial Khmer Rouge theme.

“I never think about politics, and there is no law to prohibiting people from wearing black clothes and selling porridge,” he added.

Chin Samorn, chief of the tour­ism department, said a license was not granted because his superiors did not support the cafe.

“I can’t allow him to open this res­taurant because it has no permissi­on,” Chin Samorn said. “He was not doing right. We already have Tuol Sleng and other places for tour­ists.”

Chin Samorn added that it was not the tourism department’s aim to stifle free enterprise.

“We have tried to allow people to make business and to reduce pov­er­ty and attract more tourists into the country. He should open a simple restaurant as other people have done,” Chin Samorn said.

But Hakpry Sochivan asserted that his cafe differed little from the Ap­sara dancers who perform at res­taurants in Siem Reap.

“Our country is following democracy and lets people do every business. I wonder why they do not al­low me to do this one,” he said.

Thong Khon, Ministry of Tour­ism secretary of state, said he had questions about the restaurant that remained unanswered.

“I am waiting to see the report from the Municipal Tourism De­partment about the restaurant and their real purpose. We will question each other about this matter,” Thong Khon said.

“I don’t know [Hakpry So­chi­van’s] real purpose. When we know it, we will consider what to do next.”



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