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.”