A son-in-law of one of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s brothers says he has complied with orders from Kandal provincial governor Mao Phirun to shut down his cockfighting ring, although a man who manages the fights claimed it was still up and running.
Mr. Phirun initially ordered the prime minister’s brother, Hun San, to close the ring at his Lvea Em district home in May because of the illegal gambling hosted by the son-in-law, Thay Mab. When Cambodia Daily reporters visited the house later that month, however, they found the fights in full swing and spoke with several gamblers who had come to place bets worth hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars.
Cambodian farmers watch a cockfight in 2007. (Reuters) On Monday, Mr. Phirun said he issued another order to shut the operation down about a month ago, and would soon follow up to find out if the fights were indeed over.
“We ordered police to shut down the cockfighting ring a month ago, and [the owners] made a contract with us to stop playing because it is gambling,” the governor said. “I will send my police to check whether they are still holding cockfights there. If they are still playing, we will arrest them and send them to court because they would be breaking the contract.”
Mr. Mab said he owned the ring and had complied with the governor’s order to shut it down a month ago. But he denied that there was ever any gambling there, saying the fights were only “for fun.”
“I spent $60,000 to build the cockfighting ring, and the ring was shut down after only 10 days. I lost a lot of money on the ring,” he said.
Mr. Mab said he was also ordered to close the ring by Hun Manet, the prime minister’s eldest son, who holds several top positions in the country’s security services, after an article about the cockfighting operation was published in The Cambodia Daily. He said he had since opened a new ring at a casino near the Vietnam border.
Mr. Hun Sen banned cockfighting years ago, and gambling is illegal outside of licensed venues.
But Mr. Mab insisted that his new operation in Tbong Khmum province was aboveboard.
“Authorities have no right to shut the ring down,” he said. “I opened the cockfighting ring at the casino in Tbong Khmum for foreigners only, not for Khmer people. Samdech Hun Sen banned Khmer people only, but the foreigners can come to play.”
The manager of the ring in Kandal, however, who in May identified himself to reporters only as Nang, said on Monday that it was still hosting cockfights on Thursdays and Saturdays.
“We still play in secret two days a week,” he said, declining to comment further.
pheap@cambodiadaily.com
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