The Khmer Institute of Democracy has joined the chorus of protest over the development of Olympic Stadium, declaring it detrimental to “the rule of law and the country’s reputation.”
In a news release dated Dec 19, the institute calls on Khmer nationalism and reverence for King Norodom Sihanouk as reasons to preserve the historic stadium, designed in the 1960s by revered Cambodian architect Vann Molyvann.
“This stadium…is national cultural property that has been connected with the reputation of the Khmer people in the eyes of the world,” the release states.
As a symbol of the post-independence Sangkum Reastr Niyum regime, headed by then-Prince Sihanouk, the stadium must be preserved out of respect for the King, it states.
The institute’s director, Keat Sukun, said the stadium is an important touchstone for national pride. “Olympic Stadium reminds us that we are not lazy people—we are the descendants of Angkor,” he said on Sunday.
The statement also charges the developers with violating water, land management, urbanization and cultural heritage laws and procedures.
A Taiwanese company, the Yuanta group, has a contract with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports to renovate the sports facilities and build shopping centers, apartments and hotels on the surrounding area.
Several Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers have spoken against the stadium’s development, and a public forum, hosted by the Center for Social Development, drew about 100 people to the earlier this month.
The day before the forum, Education Minister Tol Lah held a news conference to declare that the development would not be stopped. On Sunday, Tol Lah said he would not respond further to the development’s detractors.
“We have made the government’s position on this issue clear already,” he said.