Hun Sen Denies Naming Overpass for Marriage Anniversary

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday inaugurated the Pram Makara (January 5) overpass in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kok district and insisted it was a coincidence that the structure was named for the date of his wedding anniversary, accusing the opposition of claiming the connection was deliberate.

“The inauguration was set for January 5th, 2016, and it’s a coincidence that it’s the 40th anniversary of my marriage,” he said. “But what made me so disappointed was that if journalists are crazy, the spokesman for the political party should not be crazy, too.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen greets members of the crowd at the inauguration of the Pram Makara overpass in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Prime Minister Hun Sen greets members of the crowd at the inauguration of the Pram Makara overpass in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Mr. Hun Sen said he was referring to a story in Tuesday’s edition of The Phnom Penh Post.

The story cites a message Mr. Hun Sen posted to his Facebook page on Monday in which he discusses his anniversary on January 5 but makes no mention of the overpass. The story claims, however, that the new overpass was named in honor of the anniversary.

The Khmer-language version of the article includes a comment from CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann. Asked about the name of the overpass, Mr. Sovann is quoted as saying that Cambodia has many heroes who have helped to protect the country’s territory.

Prime Minister Hun Sen inspects the Pram Makara overpass during its inauguration on Tuesday in Phnom Penh. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Prime Minister Hun Sen inspects the Pram Makara overpass during its inauguration on Tuesday in Phnom Penh. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

“If the bridge were named to mark the 40-year anniversary of the marriage of Samdech Techo and his wife, it could be criticized,” Mr. Hun Sen said on Tuesday. “But January 5th is for all the people of the world.”

Also speaking at the event, Phnom Penh governor Pa Socheatvong said the overpass and accompanying underpass, at the intersection of Russian and Mao Tse Toung boulevards, was built at a cost of $14.5 million by the Overseas Cambodian Investment Corporation, the same firm that owns the city’s Koh Pich island.

He said Phnom Penh’s growing economic clout made such infrastructure projects—the overpass is the city’s fourth—a necessity.

“Building such infrastructure in the municipality—such as belt roads, sky bridges, underpasses and other projects—is necessary to solve the problem of traffic congestion,” he said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife, Bun Rany, attend a ceremony to inaugurate the Pram Makara overpass in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife, Bun Rany, attend a ceremony to inaugurate the Pram Makara overpass in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Mr. Hun Sen said he had given City Hall his approval “in principle” for the construction of three more overpasses or underpasses and an ambitious plan for an elevated expressway running from the city center to Phnom Penh International Airport above an existing railway line.

The decision effectively nixes two other routes the city had been considering for the expressway to the airport.

Switching topics, the prime minister said families living along National Road 4, which runs from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, would no longer have to pay the toll fees beginning on Thursday, a national holiday marking the toppling of the Khmer Rouge in 1979.

The open-topped trucks that ferry garment workers to and from their factories each day also would be exempt, he said, adding that about 33,000 vehicles identified by AZ Distribution, the toll road operator, were eligible for the exemption.

[email protected]

Related Stories

Latest News

The Weekly DispatchA weekly newsletter from The Cambodia Daily delivering news, analysis and opinion to your inbox. Published every Friday at 11:30am. Sign up today.