Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sar Kheng: Gambling a ‘social cancer’ to be kept from spreading

Sar Kheng: Gambling a ‘social cancer’ to be kept from spreading

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Suspects arrested by Phnom Penh municipal police following a crackdown on illegal gambling on September 18. POLICE

Sar Kheng: Gambling a ‘social cancer’ to be kept from spreading

Minister of Interior Sar Kheng said that he regarded gambling of all kinds to be a “social cancer” which could spread through society causing ever greater harm if there is no timely action to cut it out and that the deterioration of society will inevitably lead to increased social injustices.

Sar Kheng led an anti-human trafficking meeting on September 19 with numerous relevant officials in attendance, during which he vowed to combat human trafficking and illegal gambling, which he said go hand-in-hand with labour exploitation, organised crime and online fraud schemes.

“Gambling is one of the root and original causes of social problems. If we don’t deal with it, it will spread even further and wider, which will make it increasingly complicated to solve,” he said in remarks to the media after the meeting.

To deal with this issue, he said the government’s plan is to find the victims and rescue them as a first priority and then crack down on all illegal gambling to put the operators out of business and then bring the responsible persons to face justice in the courts.

He also instructed officials in charge of processing documentation for foreign nationals to do their jobs thoroughly and make sure that their passports, visas and work permits are all in order.

The stricter scrutiny isn’t being carried out to punish people for infractions, he said, rather it’s necessary because foreigners without proper documents are easy targets for extortion and labour exploitation.

“There are foreigners who entered Cambodia illegally and then subsequently suffered torture and violence at the hands of gangs and organised crime groups. That’s the reason the government is clamping down on illegal gambling.

“This is our chance to stop the ‘fire from spreading to other houses’ or to ‘stop the disease from infecting the entire body’,” Sar Kheng said, speaking figuratively.

He also instructed that capital and provincial authorities to combat every kind of illegal gambling, no matter whether it is happening in the real world or through online portals.

“We’ll crack down on illegal gambling based on the laws already in force. We must do this work carefully, not arbitrarily,” he said.

Provincial governors are already taking action: In Kampong Chhnang province, Governor Sun Sovannarith warned all of his officials that he would fire anyone who failed to carry out the orders to combat these crimes at any location that fell under their authority.

“There have been some noodle restaurants and cafes where they sell lottery tickets and even take bets for online cockfighting. All of these must be wiped out, starting today. If it is still happening anywhere then we’ll consider the commune officials, commune police and the district chief and police – and also the deputy governor in charge of that location – as the parties who are ultimately responsible,” he said in a meeting on September 19.

Am Sam Ath, deputy director for rights group Licadho, said that the government’s actions this time were being done on a large-scale in what appeared to be an “unprecedented” campaign against illegal gambling.

“We have laws that clearly define these businesses as illegal and we only have to enforce them consistently. And, especially, all officials must stay away from personal involvement in gambling as businessmen or customers to make this campaign successful,” he said.


  • Ministry orders all schools, public and private, to close for SEA Games

    From April 20 to May 18, all public and private educational institutions will be closed to maintain order and support Cambodia's hosting of the 32nd SEA Games and 12th ASEAN Para Games, said a directive from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. Cambodia will host the

  • Newest horror film showcases unique Khmer culture, identity

    At first glance, the trailer to new horror sensation The Ritual: Black Nun looks like a western-produced feature film. As the story reveals itself to the viewers, it becomes clearer that this is a Khmer film, with a strong Cambodian identity and close links to

  • Almost 9K tourists see equinox sunrise at Angkor Wat

    Nearly 9,000 visitors – including 2,226 international tourists – gathered at Angkor Wat on March 21 to view the spring equinox sunrise, according to a senior official of the Siem Reap provinical tourism department. Ngov Seng Kak, director of the department, said a total of 8,726 people visited Angkor Wat to

  • Angkor Beer strengthens national pride with golden new look and fresher taste

    Angkor Beer – the "Gold of Angkor" – has a new look, one that is more stylish and carries a premium appeal, as well as a fresher taste and smoother flavour, making it the perfect choice for any gathering. Angkor Beer recently launched its new design, one

  • Water supply authority assures public shortages over early ‘24

    The Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) asked for understanding from Phnom Penh residents in some communes where water pressure is weak. They assured residents that all supply issues will be resolved by early 2024, but have suggested that residents use water sparingly in the meantime.

  • Khmer ballet documentary debuts April 1

    A new documentary, The Perfect Motion, or Tep Hattha in Khmer, will premiere to the public on April 1. The documentary film follows two intertwined storylines: the creation of a show called Metamorphosis by the late Princess Norodom Buppha Devi (her very last production) and the