Information Ministry Building Swap Proposed

Businessmen are pro­po­sing plans to swap the Information Min­istry building in Phnom Penh for a new building elsewhere, In­for­mation Minister Khieu Kan­harith said Wednesday.

Proposals started coming in af­ter part of one side of the minis­try—which is similar in design to the National Museum—collapsed last year, Khieu Kanharith said.

He added that he has opposed any decision to move the building, but he said that if funds can’t be raised to renovate it, it may have to be relocated. He did not name the bus­inesses who have made the land swap proposals.

“If we can’t find money they can move it, but I’ll try to find money,” he said by telephone from Ma­lay­sia.

“I like the place,” he said, adding that the building and land is worth about $2 million. “I don’t have any plans to move [from] this location…. Cambodians are superstitious. I would be unlucky to move from an old place.”

The ministry wrote to Prime Min­­­ister Hun Sen more than a week ago asking for funds to renovate the building, said Underse­cretary of State Chan Savuth.

He added that no specific sum was asked for and that Hun Sen has not yet replied.

A Funcinpec senator recently ac­­cused the Information Ministry of being an unnecessary vestige of Cambodia’s communist years.

Apart from Chan Savuth, almost all senior officials were absent from their padlocked offices in the building on Wednesday afternoon.

Chan Savuth said they were at the Council of Ministers working on various subdecrees.

But one official at the ministry said senior ministry staff often do not bother turning up to work in the afternoons.

Opposition lawmaker Son Ch­hay said the ministry should be dis­solved.

“The government should not pay to repair the building for of­fi­ces where no work is done,” Son Chhay said. “The building should be handed over to the ministry [of land management] to preserve and repair.”

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