Thai Cameras Watch Gamblers Cross to Poipet

Thai authorities installed video cameras at the Poipet checkpoint last week to photograph Thai nationals crossing the border to gamble at Cambodian casinos, immigration police said Sunday.

“Their action is preventing their people—especially Thai government officials—from visiting casinos in Poipet,” said Poipet Im­migration Police Chief Pich Saran. “Thai officials are afraid of the camera [and] they want to keep their reputations.”

Pich Saran said Cambodia has no right to stop Thailand from photographing the traffic. “It is [the Thai authorities’] right to inspect their people and to block their people from gambling in Poipet’s casinos,” Pich Saran said.

The two cameras were in­stalled shortly after the border reopened March 21. Even after the relations were officially normalized, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shina­watra urged nationals to refrain from gambling in Cambodia’s casinos and enacted a new policy requiring Thais to present passports at the border. The number of daily visitors to Koh Kong, another gambling destination for Thais, dropped from about 300 to 10 people in early April.

The numbers are back on the rise, however, and trade between the two countries is steadily increasing. Last week, hordes of vendors crowded the border checkpoints at Poipet and Sam­pov Loun district, Battam­bang province.

Young Cambodians on Friday vied for position, looking to cross into Thailand to sell corn and beans and to carry goods back into Cambodia.

As Khan Phalla, 13, pushed a small cart loaded with beans over the border into Thailand, she said she was happy to be able to earn her own money. “I want to do it because I can make some money for school and food,” she said.

“I am glad to have this job back,” said Chan Han, a Poipet laborer. “I can make money from [physical] labor. I need this work even though it is hard. I just earn money day to day.”

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