The Ministry of Information held a Buddhist ceremony Monday morning to say goodbye to its old premises, which will be demolished to make way for a new $1.6 million structure.
Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said the old ministry building on Monivong Boulevard is crumbling and needs to be replaced. In 2004, a sizeable section of the ministry collapsed, but no one was injured.
“We cannot keep the current building. It would fall down and kill us,” Khieu Kanharith said. “The building is a century old without any foundation and is now being destroyed by termites. We will build a new one with the same architecture.”
With construction underway, the ministry will relocate to another building on Monivong Boulevard for about 10 months, Khieu Kanharith said. The Ministry of Finance is paying for the construction using the proceeds from a sale of Tuol Kok district land owned by the Information Ministry, he said. Khieu Kanharith would not disclose how much the ministry made from the sale of the land, but said it was enough to cover the cost of the new construction.
Ly Chhuong Construction and Import Export Co, Ltd will undertake the building project, Khieu Kanharith said. Ly Chhuong is the son-in-law of senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap. Ly Chhuong was given the contract to construct the new National Assembly building, while Cheam Yeap chaired the commission in charge of the Assembly building project.
“There was a bidding process,” Khieu Kanharith said of his ministry’s building project, adding that four other companies—whose names he said he could not remember—submitted bids.
SRP lawmaker Yim Sovann said he didn’t believe the bidding process was opened widely. “I don’t believe that there was a transparent bidding process,” he said, adding that Ly Chhuong Construction was given a no-bid contract to construct the new Assembly building.
A receptionist at Ly Chhuong Construction said Ly Chhuong was too busy to speak with a reporter Monday and Tuesday.