Commune Elections Alcohol Ban Met With Resistance

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A government directive has warned of the threat of alcohol-induced violence, traffic accidents, crimes and disorder during the election process. KHMER TIMES / CRYSTIAN CRUZ

In an effort to avoid civil unrest during the upcoming commune elections, Prime Minister Hun Sen last Friday issued a government directive banning the sale or consumption of alcohol on Saturday and Sunday this week. However, local bars and restaurants have revealed they will be ignoring the temporary ban, which came with no details as to how it would be enforced or what kind of penalties would result from failure to comply.

“This ban is primarily targeted for smaller local and foreign establishments,” said Tom O’Connor, manager and shareholder of The Exchange in Phnom Penh, which is hosting its second annual Craft Beer Fest, a fundraising charity event, on Saturday. “We have been told by the authorities, although nothing is in writing, that larger establishments like us can continue to operate.”

Kim Tieng, a cashier for ABC BBQ restaurant in the capital’s Boeung Keng Kang III neighbourhood, said: “We are running the restaurant as normal and we don’t have the day off either because most of the staff is registered to vote in Phnom Penh.”

However, renowned chef and co-chair of the Government-Private Sector Working Group on Tourism Luu Meng said establishments selling alcohol should take the directive seriously to ensure stability during the election, even if that means a loss of profits over the weekend.

The alcohol ban is nothing new, having been issued during previous elections. Governments in Thailand and Singapore have also taken the same measures.

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