Education Ministry secretary of state Sar Sokha has requested the National Police and Military Police to investigate rumours by illegal gambling operators that he was backing their businesses.
He sent out the requests over the weekend to National Police chief General Neth Savoeun, National Military Police commander General Sao Sokha, and Kirth Chantharith, the director-general of the Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration.
Mr Sokha yesterday said that during ongoing crackdowns on illegal online gambling, a group of people circulated rumours online which named him and other high-level government officials as being behind their businesses.
“The accusations and rumours are tricks they are using to mislead the authorities and to protect their illegal businesses,” he said. “They are mocking law enforcement and the authorities. This is a criminal offence that must be penalised. Those rumours are fake news aimed at spoiling my reputation and dignity in order to serve their interests and to cause social disorder,” Mr Sokha added. “This is not freedom of expression, but rather a crime.”
He urged authorities at all levels to identify those who had named government officials as being their benefactors and take prompt action against people operating illegal online gambling businesses across the Kingdom.
Lieutenant General Chhay Kim Khoeun, National Police spokesman, yesterday said the accusation against Mr Sokha is intolerable, adding that police will immediately investigate to identify those behind the rumours and arrest them.
“Mr Sokha is a top official in the Education Ministry. The allegation is ruining his reputation,” he said. “We will investigate this matter and continue to crack down on illegal gambling.”
Brigadier General Eng Hy, Military Police spokesman, said he had yet to see Mr Sokha’s request but noted military police will immediately take action because an offence had taken place. “Our military police will implement the law and take action against any attempt to cause social insecurity,” he said. “When there is a crime, we will conduct an investigation to address it.”
In late August, Prime Minister Hun Sen issued a directive to end all online and arcade gambling in the Kingdom by the end of this year to safeguard public order, adding that Cambodia would not depend on income derived from gambling.