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Cambodia bans Chinese blockbuster ‘No More Bets’ over negative portrayal concerns

Cambodia’s decision to ban the Chinese blockbuster “No More Bets” is rooted in its concern over the film’s adverse depiction.

However, a previous UN report underscores the involvement of Myanmar and Cambodia in the coercion of over 220,000 individuals into online scam activities.

Notably, In Singapore’s $2.4 billion money laundering case, nine of ten arrested were granted Cambodian citizenship between August 2018 and March 2021.

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CAMBODIA: Cambodia has recently imposed a ban on the Chinese blockbuster film titled “No More Bets” due to concerns over its unfavourable depiction of the country.

The film, released in early August, claims to be inspired by true events and narrates the story of a computer programmer who is trafficked to an undisclosed Southeast Asian nation, where they become entangled with a violent fraudulent organization.

Notably, the movie also features Khmer scripts.

As reported by The Cambodia China Times, various Cambodian government departments, including the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, and Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, are actively collaborating to address the film’s adverse portrayal of Cambodia.

The Cambodian Ministry of Interior has expressed strong dissatisfaction with the narrative of “No More Bets,” believing that it significantly tarnishes Cambodia’s image.

The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has officially decreed the ban on “No More Bets.”

Moreover, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts is set to work in conjunction with the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications to take measures aimed at curbing the spread of film clips through social media platforms.

Song Man, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, revealed that the ministry has dispatched a letter to the relevant Chinese authorities through the Chinese Embassy in Cambodia.

He emphasized that the Chinese Embassy is actively addressing the issue, and their cooperation will persist.

Song Man stressed that, in response to Cambodia’s request, Chinese authorities have provided access to the complete version of the film.

After viewing the entire film, it was found to be centred around an anti-fraud theme, with the Chinese intending to convey anti-fraud messages to their own population.

However, it has inadvertently cast a negative light on Cambodia and other Southeast Asian nations, such as Myanmar and Thailand, negatively impacting their tourism industries.

Song Man underscored that “No More Bets” has had an adverse effect on Cambodia’s reputation as a sovereign nation, asserting that the film does not accurately reflect Cambodia’s true image.

United Nations sound alarm on human trafficking and scam activities in the region

Despite the Cambodian government’s assertion that the film portrays transnational crimes, including human trafficking and violent scams operating in the country in an unfavorable light, it is undeniable that these crimes have long been identified by the United Nations and various human rights organizations.

In a recent policy report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the issue of human trafficking, often used to coerce victims into participating in criminal activities, is just one aspect of transnational organized crime.

This criminal activity is closely associated with border casinos, large-scale money laundering operations, cybercrimes, and an array of other illicit offences. The report also documented credible instances of torture and extortion within these criminal operations over the past year.

While certain crackdowns have been executed in Cambodia and the Philippines, these criminal groups are evolving and perfecting their fraudulent activities from fortified compounds located within the protective umbrella of ethnic rebel groups in the conflict-ridden terrain of Myanmar.

Earlier, the UN released an alarming report a concerning report that highlights the ASEAN region has become a hotbed for online scammers, victimizing hundreds of thousands of individuals globally through human trafficking schemes specifically designed for online fraud.

UN Report estimates over 220 thousands victims in Myanmar and Cambodia coerced into becoming online scammers

The UN report estimates that at least 120,000 people in Myanmar and 100,000 in Cambodia have been coerced into becoming online scammers.

The report also alerted that individuals are lured in by social media ads promising easy jobs and luxurious amenities, only to be deceived into travelling to countries such as Cambodia, Myanmar, and Thailand.

“In some instances, people have attempted to escape, including by jumping from compounds or swimming across rivers (such as from Myanmar to Thailand or Cambodia to Vietnam), but these efforts often end unsuccessfully, either in death or severe punishment upon recapture,” the OHCHR stated.

Cambodia confirms investigation into its ‘citizens’ implicated in Singapore money laundering case

In the high-profile S$2.4 billion money laundering case in Singapore, it is worth noting that nine out of the ten individuals arrested were granted Cambodian citizenship between August 2018 and March 2021.

Additionally, these individuals were reported to have connections to various firms in Cambodia.

While possessing different nationalities, all ten individuals hail from Fujian, China.

Among the 10 individuals charged, three currently possess Cambodian passports and citizenship.

These individuals were identified as Chen Qingyuan (33), Su Baolin (41), and Su Wenqiang (31).

The Cambodian embassy in Singapore last month informed the Phnom Penh Post that they were cognizant of the situation and had received notification from Singaporean authorities about Cambodian individuals being charged in court.

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