One Month After Ban, Karaoke Parlors Remain Silenced

The government order that eliminated karaoke from Cam­bodian nightlife appears to be holding strong nearly one month after it was announced by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

No one has been arrested for violating the ban, a survey of government officials revealed Wednes­day, and few government officials seemed concerned that anyone would try to turn their machines back on.

“There is no karaoke any more here,” said Kham Khoeun, governor of Ratanakkiri province. “More than 20 karaokes were closed down. They could not oppose the order.”

The order, which took effect Nov 23, was meant to restrain a culture of drugs and violence harbored in some karaoke parlors. It followed two high-profile shootings at Phnom Penh nightclubs that left one dead and three seriously injured.

No fines or penalties were announced for anyone who violated the ban. Personal karaoke performances at home are still allowed, as are performances in public areas or in restaurants.

Some establishments have used loopholes to get around the order, converting their karaoke parlors into restaurants or beer gardens.

“At night, it’s very quiet,” said Dr Ros Rochhay, who works in Siem Reap for the UNDP-Part-­ner­ship for Local Govern­ance. He said none of the karaoke parlors has reopened.

Nhiek Kim Chhun, the second deputy governor of Banteay Meanchey province, and Nha­rang Chan, third deputy governor of Mondolkiri province, both said that all karaoke parlors are still closed in their provinces.

Pa Socheatevong second depu­ty governor of Battambang prov­ince, said some businesses closed down, while others changed their business.

“Some karaokes transformed into restaurants, while some turned into massage parlors,” he said.

No arrests are likely in Kampot province, where the governor says the parlor owners and the government are working on a solution.

“We haven’t arrested anybody yet,” Puth Chanvarith said. “There is no reason to arrest anybody on that. We have a meeting and just discuss it. It’s like a family.” He said he met with karaoke parlor owners just last week and they agreed to continue to abide by the order.

In Phnom Penh, no one has broken the ban yet, government officials said.

“Some of the karaoke and discotheques transformed into beer gardens,” said Chuop Sok Heng, deputy police chief of Dangkao district. “They all were asked to sign contracts, so they cannot violate them.”

Yim Simony, police chief for Prampi Makara district, gave a similar report Wednesday.

“There is no karaoke or discotheques any more. They all agreed to close down and they abided by the order very well because they signed agreements,” he said.

 

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