Opinions Vary On Banning G3 Mobile Phones

Government spokesman and Min­ister of Information Khieu Kan­ha­rith said on Thursday that he does not support a petition calling on Prime Minister Hun Sen to ban the latest generation of mobile phones.

The “3G” or third-generation phones, which allow users to access the internet and send video images, have been dubbed a threat to Khmer culture by the wives of powerful officials who believe that Cam­bo­dian men could be seduced by las­civious women wielding such tech­nology.

“To ban the technology is a mistake,” Khieu Kanharith said.

“If we ban [the phones] then we should also ban using a car, because they can use that to transport a girl,” he said.

He added that the 3G phone system is an important element of the country’s economic growth, as it al­lows faster exchange of information. “The negative side of this technology is less than the positive,” Khieu Kanharith said.

Two Cambodian companies, Mo­bi­Tel company and the AZ group of companies, headed by CPP lawmaker Ung Bun Hauv, are vying to be the first to introduce the latest mobile phone model to the country, he added. Nuth Narang, secretary of state for the Ministry of Land Man­age­­ment, said that he has also signed the petition, which bears the signatures of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s wife, Prince Norodom Rana­riddh’s wife and the wife of Cabinet Minister Sok An.

“I supported it because there’s no need to have a phone with a camera,” Nuth Narang said.

Minister of Rural Development Lu Laysreng said that he also plans to sign the petition, as women might use the phones to send pornography to government officials in order to make their wives jealous.

“It’s too early to have such tech­no­l­o­gy used in the country,” he added.

A spokesman for MobiTel said on condition of anonymity said that banning the phones would keep Cam­bodia one step behind other countries in the region. “3G is the latest phone technology in the world. It is being used in Sing­apore, Thai­land, and Cambodia also wants it.”

MobiTel owner Kith Meng said by telephone from the US on Thurs­day that he was dumbstruck by the drive to ban 3G technology. “I cannot say anything at all,” he said.


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