Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday chided Cambodia’s governors for their inability to execute his orders, including his high-profile demand last year that all karaoke clubs be closed.
The governors have been ignoring that order and others, Hun Sen said, addressing an audience of 885 graduates from the National Institute of Management and their families, and broadcast over national television.
“The Phnom Penh governor and provincial governors wait for the prime minister to give orders to them,” Hun Sen said. “But if we wait only for the prime minister, there is no need for other officers.”
While some karaoke parlors may be closed, there remain others that only seemed closed from the outside, he said.
“This doesn’t mean that the prime minister doesn’t know about the karaoke parlors still operating in 24 municipalities and provinces,” Hun Sen said. “But he doesn’t speak; he waits to watch the governors, whether they take action or not.”
Hun Sen ordered all karaoke clubs nationwide closed in November, after a series of violent incidents where his relatives were implicated. His orders were executed virtually overnight. But many karaoke clubs in the provinces and Phnom Penh remade themselves as “restaurants” or “massage parlors,” effectively circumventing the ban.
Some clubs have since gradually re-opened—not only behind closed doors, but in the open, some of them within earshot of police stations.
“Right now I am searching for some governors [to see] whether they solved the problem of people lacking water, but sometimes some of them go to the disco,” Hun Sen said.
Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara, whose office is located across Monivong Boulevard from the National Institute of Management, declined to respond to Hun Sen’s criticism on Tuesday.
Kompong Cham Governor Cheang Am said there are a small number of karaoke parlors still “secretly operating” in his province. But, he said, “I am still practicing Prime Minister Hun Sen’s order.”
Battambang Governor Prach Chan said he was following the order, but had encountered some “obstacles,” because “some parlors changed their name to ‘restaurants.’”