Casinos ‘secret strategy’ to protect Cambodia—PM
PHNOM PENH—Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday said allowing the construction of a spate of border casinos was part of a “secret strategy” to protect the country’s territory from its neighbors.
“I don’t like casinos, but the biggest goal for giving permission to build casinos is to protect the border,” he told parliament during a five-hour speech addressing border demarcation issues with Vietnam.
“One can remove border markers, but one can’t remove five-story hotels. Don’t be stupid,” Hun Sen said, in response to opposition criticism that the gambling dens were harmful to the country.
Cambodia’s border with Vietnam and Thailand is dotted with dozens of casinos and accompanying hotels catering mostly to foreign gamblers since Cambodians are not legally allowed to gamble.
“You force me to talk about it. This should be a secret strategy to protect the nation,” the strongman premier said in typically feisty fashion.
Hun Sen used the marathon address, which was broadcast live on television, to deny longstanding claims from the main opposition party that his government was allowing Vietnam to encroach on Cambodian territory.
Cambodia and Vietnam officially began demarcating their 1,270-kilometer (790-mile) border in September 2006 after decades of territorial disputes stemming from French colonial times.
According to Hun Sen some 700 kilometers have been demarcated so far.
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