Hun Sen Signed Off On Mfone Customers Deal With Mobitel

Prime Minister Hun Sen approved a decision in January to transfer hundreds of thousands of customers from bankrupt mobile phone operator Mfone to the country’s largest telecommunications firm, Mobitel, despite a court injunction preventing Mfone from offloading assets. According to the statement released yesterday by the Telecommunications Regulator of Cambodia, the decision was made by the prime minister in order to ensure that Mfone’s customers were not abandoned as the company collapsed, and could be provided with another service in the country. … CamGMS operates under the Mobitel brand in Cambodia and is owned by Kith Meng. Mfone is owned by Thaicom, whose holding company Shin Corporation, was founded by former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Sinawatra. Mr. Meng and Mr. Thaksin have long been on close terms with Mr. Hun Sen. … “Samdech is not involved only with Mfone, but all operators… because the government is a decision-maker to provide frequencies to mobile phone operators.” [Telecommunications Regulator of Cambodia director, Lay Marivo said.] … Chan Sopha, president of the Economic Association, said a fairer way of deciding how to offload Mfone’s subscribers would have been to let other operators bid for them competitively. … However, Kuoy Thunna, the lawyer for Elteck -the firm that helped Mfone develop satellite technology and is owed millions of dollars- said it was inappropriate for the prime minister to involve himself in the decision of the firm’s customers while it was still going through the courts. ..