Prime Minister Hun Sen instructed authorities to clamp down on all illegal gambling they encounter without waiting for orders from their superiors.
Speaking at the 6th Inter-Faith Forum Against Human Trafficking on September 29, he said that recently Kandal province had cracked down on 700 gambling dens, while the capital had raided more than 1,000.
“With such a high number of illegal gambling businesses, it affects the ‘Safe village-commune’ policy which we put into place many years ago. Gambling dens are not on clouds up in the sky, they are all here on the ground. The question is whether you are going to deal with them or not.
“Don’t wait to hear word from the interior minister. You must combat these crimes by becoming an endless drizzle of rain falling on these criminals' heads,” he said, also calling those who have IT skills to use their know-how ethically and morally rather than to do wrong.
Hun Sen called on all Cambodians to give up playing illegal lotteries. He instructed the authorities to find out who the masterminds are and bring them all to justice, while those who just go from place to place to distribute the money and sell the tickets should first be educated and legal action should only be taken against them if they are not deterred by that.
Meanwhile, the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has set up a working group to review all pawn shops and the activities of those who provide loans to people for collateral.
Governor Khuong Sreng serves as chairman of the working group, while deputy governor Khlaing Huot, municipal police chief Sar Thet and municipal Military Police chief Rath Sreang all act as deputy chairmen.
The working group is tasked with inspecting all pawn shop business and an order has been issued for a temporary halt to the conduct of all pawn shop business activities whether they are licensed or not.
Shops that have license from the Ministry of Economy and Finance, but no permission from City Hall, must apply for permission and the working group will then assess their business before making a decision on the application.
“In cases where the shop does not have permission, that shop must be closed down with all materials related to pawns immediately confiscated or frozen. In severe cases, the group will build cases and send the violators to court for prosecution,” said the working group's announcement.
The municipal authorities kicked off a campaign against illegal activities by pawnshops in the capital, such as buying stolen goods while declaring that the operation will be conducted with maximum transparency to ensure that it remains free from corruption.
The first five days of the campaign to shut down illegal pawn shops saw at least nine suspects detained and over 1,000 motorcycles of questionable origin seized, among other items.
Deputy governor Huot detailed to reporters on September 28 that during the operation to inspect pawn shops in Tuol Kork district’s Boeung Salang commune, authorities broke the lock off the doors to a warehouse and found 45 motorcycles they suspect were stolen given the warehouse owner's lack of cooperation, though that had yet to be confirmed.
He said municipal police will now investigate the case in collaboration with the municipal court prosecutor.
“We will carry on with inspections. We plan to continue this work in Tuol Kork and Por Sen Chey districts as we have been tipped off about some possible criminal activity,” he said.
He noted that during the stretch from September 19-23, officers seized 1,113 motorcycles, 14 cars, 12 Indian-style auto-rickshaws and nine larger traditional tuk-tuks. Nine suspects were detained pending further investigation.
The seized property will be handed over to the municipal police for further legal action. People who have had their motorcycles stolen or robbed in connection with the pawn shops can contact the police for further information.
He continued that the operation will be carried out across the entirety of Phnom Penh with maximum transparency to ensure order and security.
Huot called on all warehouse owners who rent out their properties to other people to check on them and make sure their tenants are not using it to conduct illegal businesses.
“The owners of the rental warehouse should hurry and check whether the locations they rent out are being used for businesses that are illegal or aren't permitted under the lease agreement and report anything unusual so that they, the landlords, will not be implicated. Otherwise, they could be summoned for questioning by the relevant authorities,” he said.