Construction Permits Pulled From Proposed KR Museum

Construction permits for the mu­seum proposed by former Khmer Rouge cadre and S-21 prison photographer Nhem En have been revoked, the provincial governor of Oddar Meanchey said Monday.

Mr Nhem En had planned to build a museum commemorating the Khmer Rouge movement on a 12-hectare plot of land, but provincial inspectors found last month he had not started construction.

“We have decided to revoke his permit; the papers haven’t reached him yet,” Provincial Governor Pich Sokhin said by telephone Monday. “He has not built, and so we have revoked it.”

Construction of the museum in Anlong Veng district will now be delayed for another year because of financial difficulties, Mr Nhem En said, maintaining that he had already spent $140,000 on preparing the site for building.

Until he acquires the necessary funds to build the museum, Nhem En said, he will lend the land to lo­cal farmers.

“The villagers wanted to grow rice on my land, so I have agreed with them,” he said on Monday, add­ing that he had not yet received no­tice from the province that his construction permits had been revoked.

In April, the former photographer fell afoul of the provincial authorities when he announced plans to auction off two cameras he used to take portraits of inmates at the notorious S-21 detention center, as well as a pair of rubber sandals purportedly worn by Pol Pot, in order to support his museum.

Mr Nhem En announced a starting price of $500,000 for the lot.

Oddar Meanchey Governor Pich Sokhin and An­long Veng Dis­trict Governor Nhim Phanna both confirmed Monday that they had asked Mr Nhem En to halt the planned auction, and had threatened that he could lose permission for the museum if he went ahead with the sale.

“I agree with the provincial governor that he must stop selling Pol Pot’s belongings,” Mr Nhim Phan­na said by telephone on Monday. He added that he has asked Mr Nhem En to remain calm, and has encouraged him not to abandon his museum entirely.

Mr Nhem En said on Monday that he was saddened by the development: “I am sad because I was doing it for the country.”



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