The government “successfully” closed 1,053 karaoke parlors, nightclubs and bars in seven Phnom Penh districts and left 4,228 employees facing potential unemployment after municipal officials carried out Prime Minister Hun Sen’s directive to close all night-entertainment establishments Friday night.
“I am very happy with the government’s order because karaoke and nightclubs affect the social security of the country and have many criminal cases such as drug trafficking and the flesh trade,” said Kim Horn, Toul Kok district police chief. He said Sunday that Toul Kok police closed 158 nightclubs and karaoke parlors. More than 600 workers were left unemployed after the shutdown, he said.
Kim Horn said 117 karaoke parlors that the municipality closed were small establishments that sold three songs for a little more than $0.12. They agreed to close because “no one could go against the government’s order,” he said.
In neighboring Prampi Makara district, authorities shut down 62 nighttime establishments that could affect an estimated 605 employees, said Prampi Makara district Governor Chup Khon. He said some of the club owners said they will turn their clubs into restaurants with music, thus avoiding a shutdown.
“In my district, we have had problems in the past with the clubs—there is anarchy and shootings and disturbances,” Chup Khon said.
Club owners disagree that shutting the clubs will benefit the city.
“When the World Trade Center was destroyed in the US by terrorists, it made many Americans jobless, but in Cambodia our government reduced the Khmer workers’ jobs by shutting down the karaoke, nightclubs and bars,” said a Phnom Penh karaoke owner who declined to be identified.
Sam Sy Dak, manager of the Mahasal Night Club on Monivong Blvd, said he will abide by the prime minister’s directive, but does so under duress.
“My place has never had a problem,” he said. “Our customers are mostly government officials like National Assembly members and Senate members.”
Officials from Daun Penh district report that around 1,300 workers face unemployment after the government closed the doors of 151 karaoke parlors and night clubs. Chey Salong, Chamkar Mon district governor, said 150 karaoke clubs were closed and around 1,200 could be out of work.
“I am happy that we cut off people’s access to these clubs to help support social security,” said Dangkao district police chief Mom Saveth. He said Dangkao district police closed 73 clubs, 66 of which are small karaoke shops that charge about $0.12 for local people.
Meanchey district officials reported that authorities closed 117 clubs and left an estimated 184 immediately unemployed, while Russei Keo officials said 282 clubs were closed and 250 workers were left unemployed.
(Additional reporting by Kay Kimsong)