Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Telecoms warned over ID lapse

Telecoms warned over ID lapse

Cambodian migrant workers arrive in the border city of Poipet after crossing the Thai border into Banteay Meanchey province
Cambodian migrant workers arrive in the border city of Poipet after crossing the Thai border into Banteay Meanchey province earlier this month. Vireak Mai

Telecoms warned over ID lapse

Senior government officials yesterday issued a stern warning to the country’s largest mobile operators, claiming they handed out SIM cards to migrant workers returning from Thailand without getting their proper identification.

According to deputy national police commissioner Chhay Sinarith, Metfone, Smart and Cellcard started giving out the donation packages, which included SIM cards with free credit, to migrants fleeing Thailand in fear of a crackdown by the military junta about two weeks ago.

“We found that a lot of SIM cards had been sold or given away without identifying the subscribers,” Sinarith said.

“Of course, we do recognise their [mobile operators'] generosity, but they have to make sure that those given a SIM card have been properly identified, otherwise this will make trouble in society, because they can use the [unidentified] SIM to make explosive devices,” he said.

Government officials held a meeting with the telcos yesterday at National Police headquarters in Phnom Penh. Sinarith said the mobile operators were given two weeks to attain proper documentation from the SIM card recipients or take action to terminate the new subscriber accounts.

“We ordered them [mobile operators] to send an SMS notification, voice message or use whatever means necessary to contact those people who were given the SIMs [and] demand that they provide documents proving their identity,” the deputy police commissioner said.

Smart CEO Thomas Hundt yesterday denied any wrongdoing. He said that his company’s identification processes remained stringent and that every person had his or her ID card photographed before receiving a SIM card.

“As a general practice and also in this case, Smart is very strict, and for this reason [SIM cards] are only being handed out with an ID card,” he said.

Cellcard, however, admitted that in a rush to help returning migrants, some people were signed up to the mobile provider without presenting proper identification.

“There may have been instances where due to the demand for Cellcard sims full id was not provided,” Cellcard CEO Ian Watson, said via text message yesterday.

“[I]n these exceptional cases we [will] retrospectively get ID. We have spoken to all of all our sale team to ensure full adherence to the ID requirements.”

He added that this was not common practice for the firm.

Of the three mobile operators, Vietnamese-owned firm Metphone handed out the most SIM cards at 12,000. Cellcard gave out about 7,000 and Smart about 2,000, according to Sinarith.

Metfone could not be reached for comment.

MOST VIEWED

  • Breaking: US House passes 'Cambodia Democracy Act'

    The US House of Representatives in Washington, DC, on Monday, passed the “HR 526 Cambodia Democracy Act”, also known as the Cambodia Democracy Act of 2019. If signed off by the president, the bill will allow two major sets of action to be taken against high-ranking Cambodian

  • ‘Zero-dollar’ tours under fire

    Minister of Tourism Thong Khon has blamed “zero-dollar” tour operators for the decrease in foreign tourists to Angkor Archaeological Park in the first half of this year and has called for action against them. Angkor Archaeological Park received 1.24 million foreign visitors in the first half

  • Some jobs off limits to foreigners from August

    Beginning from the second week of August, foreigners will be banned from driving taxis and tuk-tuks, as well as being motorcycle delivery drivers, street food vendors, hairdressers and product distributors among other lower-income jobs. Some white-collar jobs such as the head of human resources will

  • Breaking: Rubbish found packed inside 83 containers at S'ville port

    Eighty-three containers packed with rubbish were broken open at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port by joint authorities on Tuesday. The origin of the containers has yet to be ascertained, Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said. Pheaktra, who is also the ministry’s secretary of state, said