Funcinpec Looks Forward To New Headquarters

Leading up to their party’s 25th anniversary celebration today, Fun­cinpec officials said they were looking forward to a brighter future, and to leaving behind the “bad feng shui” of their old headquarters.

Royalist officials are expected to celebrate their party’s first quarter century with speeches and traditional dancing today, during a cornerstone laying ceremony at the new headquarters in Dangkao district.

The celebration comes a week be­fore the party’s actual anniversary on March 21, as fortunetellers ad­vised that today was a more auspicious date, Funcinpec Deputy Sec­retary-General Chhim Seak Leng said Monday.

Officials will transport some items today from their current headquarters next to the French Em­bassy to the 11-hectare site on the outskirts of the capital. But the party’s one-ton brass statue of re­tired king Noro­dom Sihanouk will be relocated later, officials said.

“We can transport our King Fa­ther statue by standing it on a truck and driving slowly,” said lawmaker Monh Saphan.

On Sunday, Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh blamed re­cent setbacks for his em­battled par­ty on its current headquarters, whose shape he compared unfavorably to that of a pig’s face.

“It is bad feng shui. I feel scared to drive by it,” the prince told party mem­bers in Kandal province, add­ing that the party would on Tues­day “start to move stuff from the pig-face place to a big, good location.”

The move to the new location and the sale of the site next to the French Embassy netted the party $3.6 million, Prince Rana­riddh said in November.

Saroeun Soush, managing director of Asia Real Property Co estate agent, estimated that the current party headquarters, located on about one hectare of land, was worth up to $5 million. He added the Dangkao property was worth about $1 million.

Funcinpec members were up­beat, predicting that the move heralded a change in Funcinpec’s fortunes after weeks of sharp criticism from Hun Sen, over issues ranging from incompetence and nepotism to ex­­tramarital affairs.

“First, we need to go to the re­mote areas with poor people to discuss what is real democracy…we want to serve them,” said royalist law­maker Khieu San.

“I think now, everything is stabilized,” he said.

But some observers said a new head­quarters will not solve Fun­cin­pec’s problems.

“Reform can restore Funcinpec’s hope for a political future, deep re­form. Not just in speech, but in ac­tion,” said Koul Panha, director for the Committee for Free and Fair Elec­­tions.

Lu Laysreng, Funcinpec’s minister of rural development, said he  was skeptical of what supernatural ben­efits the new site might bring.

“The [old headquarters] is not evil, but the party brings back evil per­sons. The prince accepts the lo­sers.”


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