Police: Karaoke Like a Switch

Phnom Penh officials say the nationwide ban on karaoke continues, despite the on-again, off-again nature of police enforcement of the order.

“The crackdown is like a light that is sometimes on and sometimes off,” said a Phnom Penh tourism official. “They [the karaoke owners] agree when the police confront them to close their business, but then they reopen when the police go away,” the tourism official said.

The city estimates that about 20 to 30 karaoke businesses re­main open in Phnom Penh. The city has banned 1,053 karaoke clubs and discos after Prime Minister Hun Sen issued a directive in November of last year, shut­tering the establishments.

Chen Sama, deputy director of the Phnom Penh tourism office said the obstacle to shutting down the karaoke parlors is that the pol­ice are not authorized to confiscate equipment or send violators to jail.

The karaoke ban directive should be strengthened to give police the authority to seize equipment, he said.

“They close when we arrive, but then reopen when we leave,” he said.

The government policy right now is to make karaoke owners understand how damaging the karaoke parlors can be in society. They create criminal activity such as kidnapping, prostitution, murder, drug dealing and human trafficking while destroying tradition.

Lo Yu, deputy governor of Cham­kar Mon district, said there are four karaoke clubs that re­main open for business along Mao Tse-tung and Monivong boulevards.

“They reopen illegally,” he said. “They will not stay open any longer. One day they will disappear. The first step is to fish for all the big fishes, and the next step will be to collect everything,” he said.

A Daun Penh district official, however, claimed that no more karaoke parlors are open in the area. The official said that every karaoke has converted into a beer garden, with public singing and no private rooms. Daun Penh used to have 50 karaoke parlors and private clubs before Hun Sen made the order last year, the official said.


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