Prime Minister Hun Sen Wednesday defended his order to shut down karaoke parlors and discos last week, insisting that it is necessary to fight crime and will be strictly enforced.
“There is no way that we will allow them to reopen. Please do not expect that, as it would mean destruction for the country,” he said in an interview broadcast on Apsara Radio.
Local authorities who refuse to enforce the order will be removed, Hun Sen said. “The government has the means [to enforce the decree],” he said. “We eliminated the Khmer Rouge organization…. I do not believe that I cannot eliminate karaoke parlors.”
The prime minister maintained that the clubs are the root of crime and social decline in Cambodia. “I describe karaoke parlors as a hell,” he said. “It is heaven for men who want to have pleasure, but a hell for poor women who are tortured and later owe money to others.”
Most of the karaoke parlors forced to close last week weren’t licensed, Hun Sen noted. He said only about 140 of 1,053 parlors in Phnom Penh, and just a few hundred of 3,093 nationwide, had licenses.
Officials have estimated that thousands lost their jobs due to the closings. But the jobless karaoke workers are better off, Hun Sen said.
“Karaoke girls should be happy, because the government has freed them from a hell. They can go back to where they are from.”