Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Alcohol ban? Cheers to that

Alcohol ban? Cheers to that

Alcohol ban? Cheers to that

120604_04

People drink beer on the eve of commune elections on Saturday in Kampong Cham town despite a government ban on the sale of alcohol. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post

On Saturday night, cans of Cambodia beer stood next to Styrofoam plates of chicken skewers on a table outside the riverside hotel where Ngoun Theang, 26, and his friends were hanging out.

The scene would not have been out of a place any other night, but in the wake of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s two-day alcohol ban ahead of the elections, the shared brews could have spelled trouble.

Not that Ngoun Thean was concerned.

“I support and agree with the banning from the government … but I think for us to drink in a small setting like this, it’s okay.”

He added that he planned to vote the following morning and that knocking back a few would help him get a good night’s sleep.

That attitude seemed prevalent across Kampong Cham town, where the good times kept rolling at bars and markets.

The prime minister banned the sale and consumption of alcohol over June 2 and 3 to prevent unrest during the commune elections.

According to a copy of the directive, the two days of enforced sobriety applied to both Cambodians and foreigners. But neither group seemed to have gotten the message.

“Almost 100 per cent of my guests are foreigners, and they drink a little, but [not enough to] cause them to get drunk or crazy,” Tang Kimsa, manager of a riverside restaurant said.

Chaem Pichet, the Kampong Cham provincial deputy military police chief, acknowledged that fully enforcing the ban was difficult.

“There are some drinking in quiet places or hiding from the authorities,” he said, adding that the authorities could not look everywhere.

On Saturday, though, police only had to look at the night market here, which sits directly next to the headquarters of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

Music boomed from speakers while groups of young men ate dinner and washed their meals down with cans of Angkor.

A 24-year-old cassava farmer, Soeung Sopheak, was sitting with friends. They had not seen each other in a while and wanted to have a good time, he said.

But he insisted he would not get too tipsy – he did not want to forget to vote.

To contact the reporters on this story: Joseph Freeman at [email protected]
Mom Kunthear at [email protected]
Reporting from Kampong Cham town

MOST VIEWED

  • Chinese-owned shops are on the rise in central Phnom Penh

    Informal businesses owned by Chinese nationals are on the rise in central Phnom Penh, especially in Tonle Bassac commune, surrounding Koh Pich. Such businesses have sprung up notably in Central Market, Orussey Market, Sovanna Shopping Mall, Rattana Plaza, as well as Kakab commune across from

  • Breaking: Eighty-three containers of waste at S'ville port came from US, Canada

    The plastic waste found in 83 containers at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port on Tuesday came from the US and Canada, the Ministry of Environment has said. The huge shipment of rubbish weighs some 1,600 tonnes. Officials are continuing their investigation to find the company or individuals responsible for

  • ‘Long road for Cambodia bill to reach the White House’

    Analysts have questioned whether the “The Cambodia Democracy Act of 2019” bill would be passed by the US Senate and finally signed off by the president after its approval by the lower chamber, the House of Representatives, on Monday. Introduced by Republican Representative for Florida Ted

  • Two men arrested for stealing $2M

    Two men were arrested on Friday accused of stealing $2 million from a company after their employer sent them to withdraw the cash in Phnom Penh. Phnom Penh municipal police chief Sar Thet said on Sunday that the suspects were 37 years old and one was a