What Is Criminal Gambling? – Sunday, 13.9.2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 629
Is the Mirror a publication on legal affairs? No. But we have been dealing a lot during recent weeks and months with problems related to laws – their existence or non-existence, their different interpretations, and their enforcement of non-enforcement. And we have done so because of the irritation to which this leads – in the country and between representatives of Cambodia and persons and institutions in other countries.
The sentencing of three persons in their twenties, sending them for one year to prison, and – though they obviously lived under tight economic conditions – to pay US$1,700 each, made not only their family members cry, but these sentences led to the expression of strong sympathy and of sadness among their friends, as a newspaper reported, which is not know for frequent criticism of the authorities.
Surely, according to the letter of the law, these three people violated some regulations against gambling by operating some game machines with which children in their neighborhood were playing. They were respected in their area, they were able to support themselves economically by their work. It is not so clear that they really had been aware, before they were convicted as “gambling agents,” that what they did for a long time and in public was against some regulations.
A professor of law explained that their convictions serve to set a warning example to the general public, and especially to young people, not to violate the law.
But will the public understand it like that, when the same article made also reference to another case: that in mid July 2009, 39 people, who had been arrested at a secret, real gambling site, were sentenced to 18 month is prison – but their sentences were suspended for five years – and while the three people who had operated a gaming place for children were convicted to go to prison and pay $1,700, the real gamblers got suspended sentences and have to pay only $1,250.
So what is the lesson the public can learn from this?
It surely leads to caution, not to do things which might lead to trouble – but it is difficult to imagine that such cases lead to a deeper conviction to care for respect for the law, as long as the public cannot see that everybody is under the law. And the people see violations of the equality under the law regularly.
One newspaper reported, what can be observed not only during normal daily traffic, but even during road traffic control campaigns:
“Police Do Not Dare to Go Near High Ranking Officials’ Luxury Cars Violating the Traffic Law”
During the week, there was also a report that in Phnom Penh, 162 among 523 pharmacies are not licensed. To announce such figures indicates that the authorities know these figures. And 162 pharmacies continue to sell medicines, gambling with the health and maybe the life of their customers.
Different gamblings – in one case, three people were sent to prison. In many others, business continues as usual.
Please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.