Nine karaoke parlors in Pur Senchey district were closed indefinitely Monday after an early morning clash between employees of the clubs, district governor Hem Darith said.
Mr. Darith said a large group of men working for the different clubs got into a violent scuffle using rocks, clubs and knives just after 2 a.m.
“They were vying for customers and that’s what led to fighting each other,” said Mr. Darith, who shut the clubs down while military police investigate the skirmish.
Mr. Darith said military police arrested 18 men between the ages of 20 and 30 and are detaining them while the case is investigated. No charges have been laid.
“We arrested them to educate them,” Mr. Darith said. “If they do not listen, the clubs will be closed forever.”
In May, the Council of Ministers passed a sub-decree on the management of adult entertainment clubs, banning new establishments from setting up shop within 200 meters of schools, pagodas, embassies or government institutions.
Mr. Darith said many karaoke parlors have opened in the past year in his district and have been battling for customers.
“Before they have argued and threw something at each other on the street,” he said, adding that employees vying to wave down customers on the street had also caused road accidents.
Major General Rath Sreang, commander of the Phnom Penh Military Police, said the 18 suspects remain in detention as police determine who played what role in the fight. No one was seriously injured in the battle.
Horn Veasna, an employee of 7 STAR Karaoke, which is among the nine closed venues, said three of his fellow workers and his boss were wrongfully arrested.
“They fought each other on the street and the stones were placed in front of our shop,” he said. “We were not involved in the fighting. We closed the shop at 2 a.m. and we were all in the shop.”
Mr. Veasna claimed only two of the nine karaoke parlors were involved in the violent fight. “We did not have any fault, but they arrested us too,” he said.